Can we say that summer has started? Jim Teske's Blog

By Meteorologist Jim Teske

Published 05/26 2014 10:53AM

Updated 05/26 2014 10:57AM

You no doubt have heard the phrase countless times over the holiday weekend: Memorial Day is the ‘unofficial’ start to the summer season. In fact, I think I’ve used the phrase a few times over the last couple of days. The reason we hold back a bit and don’t just say “Welcome to Summer!” is a little thing called the Summer Solstice. It is that exact moment when the sun is directly overhead of the Tropic of Cancer, an imaginary line that circles the globe at about 23 degrees distance north of the Equator. This year, that takes place at 6:51 am on June 21st. We are all taught that this is the start of Summer.

To me, however, there are many signs that tell me that summer is here, even though the calendar says the summer solstice is still almost four weeks away.

First, our normal highs from now through the middle of September will be in the low 70s or even higher. Even in this, a cool Spring, we have finally seen the signs of warmer weather, at least warmer enough to break out the shorts in a more regular fashion. Here is another stat to chew on. A few years ago I looked at all the days between the first of June and the end of August in Syracuse and found that 88% had high temperatures of 70 degrees or warmer. Nearly half (46%) are better than 80 degrees.

Another look at the calendar shows record daily high temperatures are now consistently in the 90s. That tells me that if we were to hit 90 degree weather now it would not be out of the ordinary or extreme. You would call it a hot ‘summer’ day. To say it reached 90 degrees in early June and then follow up by saying “It isn’t even summer yet’ is disrespecting our long term climatology.

Also, look at those sunrises and sunsets. We are just about at our earliest sunrises and latest sunsets with it light starting around 5 am and it not getting dark until just after 9 pm. We have gained fully 6 hours of daylight since late December!

Add to that the fact that retailers are well into their summer season, advertising beach clothing and other accessories for the warm season.

So lets not be tied to the astronomical guideposts of the Summer Solstice and start celebrating ‘our Summer’ starting today, Memorial Day. Embrace the concept of ‘meteorological summer’ (June through August) Winter’s last too long in central New York to do otherwise. Let’s start taking the ‘un’ out of the unofficial start to Summer!

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