The Preakness is still 12 days away, on May 19, so it’s outside the window for a detailed or reliable forecast. But long-term climate forecasts have Maryland on the edge of a wet weather trend for the third week of May.
The Climate Prediction Center in College Park predicts elevated chances of precipitation in the Southeast from around May 14-20. It places Maryland on the edge of an area with up to 40 percent chances of wetter-than-normal weather.
Climate forecasters predict even stronger chances — greater than 50 percent — of above-normal temperatures. Average highs in Baltimore for May 19 are about 75 degrees.
While the National Weather Service only issues detailed forecasts within 10 days, other meteorologists make rough predictions as much as a month out.
AccuWeather.com is calling for cloudy and humid conditions May 18 and 19, with highs in the mid-70s and chances for storms. The Weather Channel predicts similar conditions, with highs around 80 and afternoon storms.
Regular downpours made track conditions “muddy,” at best, at Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. The track was rated “sloppy” for the marquee race, pushing bettors to back horses who had won in the mud before.
Washouts at Preakness have been rare, but memorable.
A heavy thunderstorm moved in moments before post time of the 140th Preakness in 2015, resulting in an order to evacuate the infield and creating the first “sloppy” track conditions at Preakness since 1983. American Pharoah was unfazed by the conditions and won, on his way to horse racing’s first Triple Crown since 1978.
This year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Justified, shares the same trainer as American Pharoah — Bob Baffert, who said he thinks this year’s Triple Crown hopeful is more talented than American Pharoah.
Track conditions were poor when nearly an inch of rain fell the day of Preakness in 1983, and in 1972, when more than an inch fell over two days leading up to the race. In 1938, the mud was said to be as deep as the horses’ fetlocks — the joints above their hooves — and in 1924 the Sun described it as “six inches of thick waffle batter.”
Otherwise, track conditions at Pimlico Race Course have most often been rated as “fast.”