WEST MICHIGAN — Perhaps the best present some dads could get for Father’s Day is the official arrival of summer…known as the summer solstice. What is it? It’s that time of year when the sun is as high in the sky in the northern hemisphere as it gets all year! It is almost directly overhead (or it appears that way) for us here in Michigan and the rays and incoming solar radiation are quite strong. You’ll get burned quickly without sunblock this time of year.
So while we here in the northern hemisphere begin our summer, the southern hemisphere begins their winter. The sun is as far away from those folks (in the south) as it ever gets. But there’s two sides to every story. While these are some of the longest days of the year for us…more than 15 hours and about 20 minutes or so, the days will actually slowly start to grow shorter after this weekend. You won’t notice it much at first, but we’ll start losing a couple minutes a day in a few more weeks.
It’s hard to believe that while our days may be more than 15 hours long, that means our nights are only about nine hours long. Compare that with the dead of winter when the situation is completely reversed! Here’s something else to ponder. Ever wondered why our warmest temperatures occur the second part of the summer with a sinking sun and shorter days instead of the first part? It’s simple. The northern hemisphere has just come through winter and a majority of the continent is cool. It takes a lot of time to warm and the hottest temperatures typically occur the second part of the summer (in July/August) due to a seasonal temperature lag.
Saturday June 20 is the last full day of Spring. Summer officially arrives Sunday June 21 at 12:38 P.M., the precise minute the sun reaches its northern-most point in the sky. The first full day of summer is Monday June 22. You’ll note also (or perhaps it’s just me being too much of a scientist) that our setting sun doesn’t truly rise due east and set due west this time of year. It tends to rise north of east and set north of west since it’s so high in the sky. My apologies if that’s confusing…it’s the easiest way to describe it. My house faces north and the rising sun and setting sun never enters the front window most of the year, but on these long days the sun beams through the north-facing window in both the morning and evening. It will be sad to see that end slowly over the next several weeks.
We may be in for some strong to severe storms on Monday with plenty of moisture, lift, and instability in the atmosphere by the afternoon and evening. Make sure to stay up on later forecasts at www.fox17online.com/weather.