The Shore interests like to make the case that Memorial Day crowns the first weekend of summer. This year, the atmosphere will offer convincing supporting evidence.

And for now, at least, the ocean is even buying into it.

July-like temperatures are forecast to persist right on into next week, with a high of 90 possible on Monday, and it could get prematurely sultry.

"It will be like an early start to summer," said Gary Szatkowski, meteorologist in charge of the local National Weather Service office

As for the ocean, those who have tested the Memorial Day waters know what a chilling experience it can be. "Usually, the beach is packed solid, and there are three people in the water," said Szatkowski, "and they're blue."

Right now, however, water temperatures off Atlantic City, Cape May, and Lewes, Del., are running from the mid-60s to low 70s, or as much as 10 degrees above normal.

The best guess is that a general onshore flow has dragged warmer water toward the coast, however that could change during the weekend.

A factor in the summer hors d'oeuvre, along with the lushness around here, and the horrors of the tornado season, has been the unusually warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, said Dave Dombek, a meteorologist with Accu-Weather Inc.

The vapor-filled air brewed over the Gulf has been migrating northward, providing moisture and energy for those devastating storms and the copious rainfall in the eastern half of the nation.

All that well-watered vegetation is a rich source of humidity. And as a summer-type ridge of high pressure over the Southeast import some of warm, moist air during the weekend, by Monday it could become quite sticky.

"At the end of May, people aren't use to this humidity, and I think it's going to be noticeable," said Dombek.

At the Shore, it should be a few degrees cooler.

Dombek said that ridge also could spell danger. It will drive winds onshore toward the Bahamas and Florida, and that region could be ripe for a tropical storm.

"That's an area we have to watch," he said. "Don't be surprised if a week from now we're talking about the first tropical storm of the season."

In the short term, however, no important rain is in the weekend outlook for our region.

"As Memorial Day weekends go, this looks pretty good," said Szatkowski.

Contact Anthony R. Wood at 610-761-8423.