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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Weathercatch: Summer solstice likely to be sunny

The summer solstice coincides with Father’s Day on Sunday, June 20, 2021. The sun, which appears over a wheat field in the Lewis-Clark Valley, will reach its highest point in the sky for 2021.  (Courtesy of Melanie Startin Weller)
The summer solstice coincides with Father’s Day on Sunday, June 20, 2021. The sun, which appears over a wheat field in the Lewis-Clark Valley, will reach its highest point in the sky for 2021. (Courtesy of Melanie Startin Weller)
By Nic Loyd and Linda Weiford For The Spokesman-Review

Sunday is the summer solstice, the longest day of 2021 and the astronomical start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

It will arrive in the United States at 8:31 p.m. , marking the precise moment the sun reaches its northernmost peak in Earth’s sky before starting its gradual journey southward again.

On that date, an early sunrise, a lengthy day and late sunset await you.

How many hours of daylight you get to enjoy depends on how far you live from the equator. The farther north you are, the longer the sun will be up. So unless you’re a vampire, that’s good news for those of us who live in the Inland Northwest.

In Spokane, the sun will rise at 4:51 a.m. and set at 8:51 p.m., giving us a total of 16 daylight hours. In Boston, the sun will be up for 15 hours and 17 minutes. Head south to Miami and it’s only up for 13 hours, 45 minutes.

The Pacific Northwest, being one of the most northern regions in the Lower 48, will enjoy a long stretch of daylight on Sunday, but the amount will dim in comparison to the town of Utqiagvik, Alaska. Located in the Arctic Circle, daylight climbs from zero in winter to a constant 24 hours in summer. The sun won’t set there again until Aug. 2.

Last year’s summer solstice, which also fell on June 20, seemed a little dark in the midst of a global pandemic as celebrations were canceled from Seattle to Sweden and Stonehenge. All the while, June weather persisted. Spokane experienced a trace of rain, wind gusts up to 27 mph and a high temperature of 74 degrees. Meanwhile, the high temperature reached just 66 degrees – 8 degrees cooler than normal – on the solstice in 2019. In 2018, we had a thunderstorm with wind gusts of 34 mph.

In 2018 and 2019, the solstice arrived on June 21. Why not on June 20 like this year? Because its timing is based on when the sun reaches its peak point in the sky, not a specific calendar date.

This year’s solstice happens to land on Father’s Day. Unless an unexpected front moves in, it looks as though dads across the Inland Northwest will have their day in the sun.

After an unsettled start to the workweek, warm and sunshiny weather is expected to build into this weekend.

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Nic Loyd is a meteorologist in Washington state. Linda Weiford is a writer in Moscow, Idaho, who’s also a weather geek. Contact: ldweiford@gmail.com

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