138th Annual Kentucky Derby Climatology & Forecast

CNN Meteorologist Sarah Dillingham

What an eventful Saturday we have: Cinco de Mayo, a Supermoon, and the Kentucky Derby!  This will be the 138th year of the legendary Run for the Roses and many are ready partake in the day’s many events!  Weather plays does play a big role here, and conditions have not always cooperated for this very popular outdoor event.  Climatologically, the average high is in the lower 70s and average lows hold into the lower 50s.  One of the coldest race days in its history was May 4, 1935 and 1957 as the temperature only reached a brisk 47°F!  The hottest race day topped out at 94°F on May 2, 1959, and this year will be pretty warm as well, but thankfully, not that extreme.  When it comes to Derby Day rainfall, 63 out of the past 137 races have seen rain at some point during the day.  The wettest Derby Day was on May 11, 1918 when 2.31” of rain fell!  Luckily, things don’t look to be shaping up that badly, but a chance of rain is in the forecast.

This 138th race is forecast to have temperatures a little above average with morning temperatures starting in the mid-upper 60s and climbing to a high near 85°F, but the temperatures aren’t really the biggest concern of the racers….it’s the rain!  For Friday, there is a 30% chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon, as well as a 60% chance of thunderstorms overnight, which could cause some problems on the track for Saturday.  The “mudders” of the pack, which are horses that race well on a muddy track, may be hoping for more rain to give them the advantage over their competitors.  There is a 40% chance of thunderstorms on Saturday, but most of the day should have mostly cloudy to partly cloudy skies and feel very steamy.  Just to be safe, it might not be a bad idea to grab an umbrella on your way out, especially to save some of those decadent outfits and hats that will be worn during the day.

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