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Washington Voices

Randy Mann: Here in Northwest, summer starts tonight

Thu., June 20, 2013

If you look at your calendar, you may have noticed that it says that Friday is the first day of summer. However, according to the U.S. Naval Observatory, summer officially begins at 10:04 tonight in the Inland Northwest. The last time the arrival of summer was close to midnight was in 2009.

Many U.S. calendars are printed for the Eastern time zone. In the eastern U.S., summer begins at 1:04 a.m. Friday.

The first day of summer is also referred to as the summer solstice. In the Southern Hemisphere, the June solstice is the first day of winter.

The Earth is tilted about 23.5 degrees on its axis. During the late June period, our hemisphere is tilted toward the sun and we receive our longest period of daylight as the sun reaches its highest level in the sky. By contrast, the Southern Hemisphere is tilted away from the sun and receives the shortest period of daylight. On Dec. 21, the tables will turn. That’s our first day of winter and our shortest day of the year and the Southern Hemisphere’s first day of summer.

The term solstice means “sun-standing.” It comes from a Latin word that was used in the late Roman Republic in the first century B.C.

The tilt of the Earth is one reason why we have four seasons, and its elliptical orbit moderates the seasons. At this time of year, our planet is 3 million miles farther away from the sun than it was in early January. If the Northern Hemisphere was closer to the sun during the summer and farther away in the winter, we would probably see much hotter summers and colder winters.

In the Inland Northwest, we should start warming up this weekend and next week. From late June until the middle of September, we should have drier than normal weather with above normal temperatures. This combination has many officials worried that the fire season will be bigger than normal. Hopefully, that won’t be the case in our area, but Colorado, California and Utah are already seeing one of the worst fire seasons in history.

Also, we should see about 20 to 25 days at or above 90 degrees with two or three days near 100 degrees.

Stay cool. This summer is looking warm.

If you have any questions or comments, you can contact Randy Mann at wxmann, or go to www.longrange for additional information.

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