Why summer starts Sunday, but the true heat lags

Weather
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Meteorological summer began June 1st, but the official start of the summer season arrives at the end of Father’s Day at 11:32 pm. This is when the sun’s direct rays shine over the Tropic Cancer, 23.5° North latitude. By the way, our latitude in Syracuse is just over 43° North.

That said, June 21st will be the longest day of the year across Central New York simply because the sun’s direct rays aren’t moving farthest north until almost midnight on the 20th. The length of the day is less than a second longer on the 21st compared to the 20th. When does the sun rise and set on the 20th and 21st? The sun comes up at 5:25 am and sets at 8:47 pm making for a 15 hours, 22 minutes and 3 seconds of sunlight.

Also, since the sun is at it’s most northern point on the 20th/21st this is when the most direct sunlight of the year shines on us.

Yes, the days start getting shorter slowly after the 21st, but the heart of the summer season is still ahead due to a lag between the longest day/most direct sunlight and the warmest temperatures.

That’s right! The warmest temperatures of the year in Central New York and Northern Hemisphere don’t usually occur until later July or early August. Think of it this way…The sun is at it’s highest point in the sky each day at noon, but the warmest/hottest temperature doesn’t typically occur until around 4 or 5 in the afternoon during the warm season. Why is that? It’s because the incoming solar radiation (energy) is exceeding the outgoing energy being by the earth’s surface.

Here’s another explanation. When you head to your favorite beach to swim which month are you more apt to be more comfortable in the lake/ocean? June or August? August, right? That’s because it takes more time for the water to heat up compared to land due to a higher specific heat, or simply put it takes more solar (heat) energy to heat up water compared to land. The majority of earth is consists of water (over 70%) so once those lakes and ocean waters have warmed up more so temperatures are typically warmer too.

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