Long Island and the greater New York City area might just evade the gloom Saturday for the 150th Belmont Stakes, the third and final leg of the Triple Crown. Belmont Park is expected to reach peak attendance of 90,000 on June 9th, when 3-year old thoroughbred Justify will make a bid for a Triple Crown sweep. Justify will be the first horse to attempt a Triple Crown victory since American Pharaoh’s sweeping victory in 2015.

American Pharaoh (middle), ridden by Jockey Victor Espinoza, leaving the starting gate at the 2015 Belmont Stakes. Credit: Belmontstakes.com

The site of the race is located in Elmont, New York, on the border of Nassau County and the New York City borough of Queens. The perpetual clouds and looming chances of rain over the past few weeks in the New York City area have the tens of thousands of expected attendees wondering if the gloom will put a damper on their viewing experience or track conditions for the race. Earlier this week, rain looked like a strong possibility, but within the last 24 hours, the forecast has slightly improved.

A washout is not expected for Elmont and greater New York City Saturday, but there is a chance that passing showers and thunderstorms may develop in the afternoon as the region lies close to a stalled frontal boundary. Rain chances will be greatest to the south and west of New York City, closer to the stalled boundary and a system of low pressure riding along it. Model guidance still does not agree on the placement of this frontal boundary. A shift to the north would increase rain chances, while a shift to the south would decrease them.

A mix of sun and clouds with a high temperature around 80 will make for a mostly pleasant day at the track for both the crowds and the horses. Downpours that do develop will generally be brief, but rain chances will increase into the evening. With a post time of 6:37 PM EDT, the best chance of rain will unfortunately be during the Belmont Stakes itself.

If it does rain during the Belmont Stakes, Justify probably will not mind. Torrential rain resulted in muddy conditions at both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, yet the thoroughbred won both races. Now while we can forecast the weather, we’ll leave it to the horses to determine who will win.

Justify, ridden by Jockey Mike Smith, takes second leg of Triple Crown at Preakness Stakes May 19, 2018. Credit: Forbes


Josh is a lifelong nature and weather enthusiast as well as the Head Meteorologist at WeatherOptics. He began regularly forecasting for New Jersey, Long Island and New York City in 2014 on social media, contributing to community pages such as SBU Weather. He holds degrees in Physics and in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences from Stony Brook University, from which he graduated in 2018. In the Fall of 2018 Josh will start graduate school for his M.S. in Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook, continuing his research on approaches to non-convective wind gust forecasting.

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