For much of the eastern United States, and especially the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, Memorial Day weekend has felt more like Thanksgiving weekend. Temperatures have been about 20 to 30 degrees colder than normal, hovering in the 40s and 50s and low enough to set scores of records.

Instead of heading to the beach or pool with their air conditioners humming at home, many residents have been forced to huddle indoors with the heat turned on.

On Saturday afternoon, temperatures at least 20 degrees below average spanned from Springfield, Mo., through the Tennessee and Ohio valleys and then up the Interstate 95 corridor. This meant high temperatures mostly hovering in the 50s, instead of the 70s to near 80, which is the norm.

Numerous locations in the eastern United States on Saturday set records for their coldest high temperatures on May 29 or came very close:

  • Washington’s high of 59 degrees, at midnight, was the second coldest on record and the coldest high temperature this late in the spring since 1997, when it was 58 on June 3, according to Capital Weather Gang information lead Ian Livingston.
  • Baltimore’s high of 58 degrees was the coldest on record.
  • Philadelphia’s high of 54 was the coldest on record.
  • Pittsburgh’s high of 51 was the coldest on record.
  • New York City’s high of 51 degrees tied the coldest on record.
  • Albany’s high of 50 was the coldest on record.

“More than two dozen locations from Ohio and Kentucky, eastward to southern New England either broke or tied daily records for lowest high temperature on May 29,” AccuWeather wrote.

In Boston, where the high was just 50, it was colder on Saturday than it was on either Christmas or St. Patrick’s Day.

Several locations in the Northeast also had record-low minimum temperatures, and snow was observed in the mountains of Vermont.

By Sunday, the core of the cold was retreating to the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, centered around Washington and Baltimore, where projected afternoon temperatures in the low to mid-50s were more than 25 degrees below average.

The chill was set up by two zones of high pressure over Canada. The clockwise circulation around these two zones has drawn cold air from both Canada and the Atlantic Ocean over the eastern third of the nation.

The chilly air has been reinforced by a zone of low pressure along the East Coast that has brought clouds and rain, blocking out the May sun.

Along the coast of the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, in addition to the rain, the onshore flow has resulted in high surf, rip currents and minor to moderate coastal flooding.

The low-pressure zone will finally pull away into the Canada Maritimes on Memorial Day, allowing sunshine to return to much of the East, although cloudy, cool weather will linger in northern New England for one more day.

A more normal early June weather regime will move over the Eastern United States by Tuesday with gradually rising temperatures through the coming week.