The first day of summer will arrive at 3:07 a.m. on Thursday. On that day, the sun’s angle in the sky is the highest and the Northern Hemisphere will experience the most daylight hours. The exact number of hours and minutes will have some slight variances across most towns and cities due to differences in elevation, terrain and proximity within the time zone.
On Thursday, the sun’s rays will be directly overhead at 23.5 degrees North latitude in the Northern Hemisphere, called the Tropic of Cancer. It’s also named the June Solstice as the Southern Hemisphere, by complete opposite, is experiencing its first day of winter.
Many of us in the Inland Empire look forward to this longest day, which is exactly 15 hours, 56 minutes in Coeur d’Alene. Over the North Pole, the sun never sets at this time of year. However, it’s completely dark in that part of the world on the first day of winter. One of my good friends lived in Alaska for nearly two years and said he had to wear sunglasses at midnight in late June and into early July.
After an often chilly winter season and a sometimes wet spring, the summers in this area are usually glorious. Once we get past June 21, our days will be slowly getting shorter. However, we usually don’t notice the loss of daylight hours until later in July or August.
As the days progress into September, by the first day of fall, the sun’s rays will be directly overhead at the Equator (0 degrees latitude) and then at the Tropic of Capricorn, 23.5 degrees South latitude in the Southern Hemisphere on our first day of winter, the Winter or December Solstice. By the way, the first day of fall arrives on Sept. 22, and that is the date when every location on the planet receives approximately 12 hours of day and night.
Believe it or not, as our planet orbits the sun, we are farther away from our star by about 3 million miles at this time of year than during our winter season. The Earth’s tilt of 23.5 degrees is what contributes to our seasons. Right now, our planet is tilted toward the sun in the Northern Hemisphere and away from the sun in the Southern Hemisphere. During our winter, it’s the opposite, as we’re tilted away, so the sun angle is much lower and we’re still experiencing those cold temperatures despite being about 3 million miles closer to the sun.
Although we base our seasons on the calendar, most meteorologists and climatologists break down the seasons into groups of three months. For example, the meteorological summer includes June, July and August. The meteorological fall begins on Sept. 1 and ends Nov. 30. The meteorological winter is from December through February and the spring includes March, April and May.
According to NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, meteorological seasons are primarily based upon annual temperature cycles. For example, we really start to feel the chilly weather in December and the summer conditions in June. The spring and fall are considered to be “transitional” periods. This system makes it easier for scientists and forecasters to calculate monthly and seasonal statistics. They were created for observing and forecasting weather patterns, which has proven useful for agriculture, commerce and other purposes.
Although our first day of summer doesn’t arrive until Thursday, we still haven’t seen our first 90-degree day of the season. However, it looks like there is a chance we’ll see temperatures near 90 degrees by Wednesday or Thursday before cooler air arrives over the region. So, for those who participated in the contest for the first 90-degree day of the season in Coeur d’Alene, this may be the week. If we do hit 90 degrees, I’ll announce the winner and the date when it occurred in next week’s column.
Cliff and I still think we’re going to be in a drier weather pattern between now and at least the end of August. But, we don’t see conditions being as dry as last year. In fact, there is a chance of showers and thunderstorms at the end of this week and again toward the end of the month.
July and August look warm and drier than normal. Let’s hope we don’t have to deal with another bad wildfire season across our region and the rest of the country.
As sea-surface temperatures continue to climb, the upcoming fall does look wetter than normal, at least in the early portion of the season.
Contact Randy Mann at email@example.com.