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Summer 2014 begins today

Summer Solstice
Summer Solstice
Grand Rapids NWS

Astronomical summer begins today with the summer solstice. Today at 6:51 AM EDT the sun reaches the most northerly declination of 23.5 degrees. The sun is directly overhead on the Tropic of Cancer. The summer solstice marks the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere. Meteorologists and climatologists have to be different. We define the summer season as June 1 to August 31. Our seasons are determined by temperature with summer being the warmest quarter of the year and winter the coldest.

The summer solstice marks the day of the year with the greatest amount of potential daylight for those living north of the Tropic of Capricorn. June happens to the second sunniest month of the year for Grand Rapids with 63% of possible sunshine. At this time of the year Grand Rapids can receive fifteen hours and twenty-one minutes of daylight.

The day with the greatest amount of potential daylight is not the warmest. For the warmest day we have to wait about a month. Everything takes time to heat and cool, including the Earth. Even though the potential daylight and thus the energy from the sun are decreasing, we are still acquiring more energy from outer space than we are losing. Roughly a month after the solstice, the energy arriving and leaving are in balance and we typically observe our warmest days. After that point, temperatures begin to decrease and our thoughts turn to fall.

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