Going down?

4 years ago

Eventually. But not yet. I’m talking daylight, and we’re about to enjoy our latest sunsets of the year.

From June 19 to July 3, the sun sets no earlier than 8:30, giving us usable daylight until 9 p.m. If you’ve ever travelled to Toronto, or anywhere else on the western side of our time zone, they enjoy usable daylight until around 10. By “usable daylight” I mean having enough light to sink a lengthy putt.

Caribou daylight (the period between sunrise and sunset) maxes out at 15 hours and 53 minutes around the summer solstice, but in July, it starts heading down, and by the end of July, it’s down to 14 hours and 56 minutes. And by the end of August, it’s down to 13 hours and 24 minutes.

If you like your vacations to have as much daylight as possible, always aim for anywhere in the mid-June to mid-July window.

We are still not quite at our climatologically warmest time of the year. It runs from July 6 through August 9, with an average high of 76 degrees. The climatologically warmest overnight lows run from July 14 through July 28, with an average low of 56 degrees. These “climate normals,” as they’re called, are based on a 30-year hunk of data that is recalculated every 10 years. The climate normals you see, such as “Today’s average high is 69,” are based on the 1981-2010 dataset. Before long, we will switch to a 1991-2020 climate data set. It will be interesting to compare it to the one we are using now.

In terms of the spring we’ve had, warm temps have certainly been hard to come by, with May only seeing a high of 70 or warmer twice. And the 73 on May 25 was the warmest temperature in 8 months(!), dating back to a 75 back on September 26, 2018.

At this writing on June 5, that 73 has not been eclipsed. The latest first 75-plus degree day of the season on record is June 29, back in 1958.

Records at Caribou go back to 1939.

Say, here’s a fun little tidbit. On July 4, Earth will be about three million miles farther from the Sun than it is in early January. In our slightly elliptical orbit around the sun, we are at aphelion when we are farthest from it, and perihelion when we are closest to it.

The reason this is the “warm season,” then, doesn’t have to do with distance, but rather it’s the fact that the Northern Hemisphere is inclined toward the sun, and receives its radiant energy more directly. In six months, the opposite is true; we will have completed half an orbit around the sun and the northern hemisphere will then be inclined away from the sun.

For those summer-lovers who dream of long warm spells, we do get them once in a while. In fact, there were 10 80-degree days in a row back in August of 2015. That set a record for consecutive days in the 80s at Caribou.

Speaking of warm weather, if out on our beautiful lakes and rivers this summer, please put your life vest on before starting out, and please check out this site, which has information about cold water that will likely surprise you, and just might save your life: http://www.coldwatersafety.org/WhatIsCold.html.

Have fun, but be safe out there.

Ted Shapiro holds the Broadcast Seal of Approval from both the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association. An Alexandria, Va. native, he has been chief meteorologist at WAGM-TV since 2006. Email him at tshapiro@wagmtv.com.