Two days from now, the Northern Hemisphere will tilt toward the sun and bask in daylight longer than any day of the year. Across the Inland Northwest, the sun will rise at 4:51 a.m. and set at 8:51 p.m., brightening our skies with 16 hours of sunlight.
Compare this to just the 8 hours, 25 minutes we experienced during the winter solstice on Dec. 21.
Besides the longest day of the year, this Saturday also marks the first day of astronomical summer. With all the changes we’ve dealt with during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s good to know that some things remain the same. Once again, a day defined by sunlit hours will mean that the treasured, stretched-out days of summer have arrived. We’ll mow the lawn, wear shorts and sunscreen, feast on outdoor-grilled burgers and enjoy vegetables from farmers markets or our own gardens.
The summer solstice typically falls on June 20 or 21, depending on the Earth’s tilt on its axis and its motion in orbit around the sun. The last time it occurred on June 20 was in 2016, when Spokane enjoyed high temperatures in the low 80s and a low near 50. The hottest solstice recorded in the area fell on June 21, 1955, with the temperature reaching 96. The coldest solstice day was on June 20, 2013, when the mercury only made it to 50.
The forecast for this Saturday solstice offers mostly sunny skies with high temperatures near 80 degrees and the lows in the 50s.
This contrasts to 2019’s summer solstice that ran 8 degrees below normal and the 2018 solstice when we received a quarter of an inch of rain.
As for summer 2020 in the Pacific Northwest, warmer-than-normal temperatures through July and August are being predicted by the Climate Prediction Center, along with drier than usual conditions. The wet, dreary weather that blanketed the region during the first half of June makes this hard to believe, doesn’t it? The steady parade of storm systems and upper-level troughs responsible for the cool, cloudy and damp conditions are finally starting to clear out of the region. Some computer models are suggesting the emergence of a high-pressure dome that will generate wide-scale hot weather beginning in late June.
Whatever this summer brings, this much is certain: The hottest weather is yet to come and early dawns and late sunsets await us.
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