Eric Elwell: 7 surprising facts about summer

Published: Monday, June 19, 2017 @ 3:06 PM

Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini explains why summer starts on June 21st.

Ready or not, here comes summer.

Summer will officially begin early tomorrow morning just after midnight, at 12:24 a.m. Granted, it has felt like summer for much of the last week thanks to the heat and humidity.

RELATED: Warm spring means hot summer likely

For the Northern Hemisphere, summer begins when the sun’s zenith reaches its northernmost point and the Earth’s North Pole tilts directly towards the sun, at about 23.4 degrees. It’s also known as the northern solstice because it occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere. Of course, this is the first day of winter for the Southern Hemisphere.

Typically, the first day of summer is also the longest day of the year. Because summer officially begins just after midnight Wednesday morning, both today and Wednesday will have 14 hours, 59 minutes and 19 seconds of full daylight. After Wednesday, we will lose about 3 and a half minutes of daylight by the end of the month and then lose over 40 minutes in the month of July.

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Here are seven other interesting facts about the summer months you may or may not know:

1. The word solstice derives from Latin, meaning ‘sun stands still’. This word was chosen because when the solstice occurs the sun appears to stand still.

2. Every year on the summer solstice, a unique baseball game is played in Fairbanks, Alaska on the solstice since the sun is out for almost 24 hours. The game begins around 10 p.m. and ends around 1 a.m. without any artificial lighting. The tradition originated in 1906 and has been played every year since 1960 by the Alaska Goldpanners.

3. The Eiffel Tower in France grows more than 6 inches thanks to the expansion of iron due to the heat of summer.

4. The dog days of summer typically are the weeks between July 3 and August 11. And no, it has nothing to do with it being so hot that dogs are lazy and lay around. The name came about because the Greeks and Romans associated the hottest days of summer with the star Sirius. Sirius was known as the “Dog Star” because it was the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (large dog). Sirius also happens to be the brightest star in the night sky. Sirius is so bright that the ancient Romans thought it radiated extra heat toward Earth. During the summer, when Sirius rises and sets with the Sun, they thought Sirius added heat to the Sun’s heat to cause hotter summer temperatures.

5. Summers in the northern hemisphere are typically hotter than summer in the southern hemisphere due to the differences in amount of land masses. There is more land mass in the northern hemisphere which heats up faster than water. Of course, land also cools faster so typical winters in the southern hemisphere are milder than those in the north.

6. Earth is not the only planet to have a summer solstice. Mars’ solstice occurs a few days after earth’s June solstice. On Uranus, each summer solstice lasts for 42 years. This also means that each winter solstice lasts the same amount of time for the opposite hemisphere. Let’s just be thankful that we get to enjoy our seasons more often than every 42 years!

7. Finally, one of my most favorite facts is this one: Watermelon is the most popular summer vegetable in the United States. Watermelon is part of the cucumber, pumpkin, and squash family and consists of 92 percent water. The average American consumes 15 pounds of watermelon annually. Wow!

Eric Elwell is WHIO StormCenter 7 Chief Meteorologist. Contact him at eric.elwell@coxinc.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Showers, storms return today 

Published: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 @ 5:30 AM

Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini looks at the potential for strong storms this afternoon.

Quiet and very warm Tuesday with temperatures in the 70s during the morning, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini.

RELATED: Dayton traffic from the WHIO Traffic Center  

RELATED: WHIO Interactive Radar 

QUICK-LOOK FORECAST 

  •  Scattered showers and storms from lunch through the afternoon
  • Slight chance for a strong storm
  • Dry and cool stretch returns

 

(Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini)

RELATED: Sky Witness 7  

DETAILED FORECAST 

TODAY: Most will stay dry through the morning hours. Heading towards lunch some scattered showers and storms will push in. 

Activity will be most widespread during the afternoon. An isolated severe storm possible with wind the main threat. 

Everyone could see localized heavy rain through the day. Highs in the low to mid 80s. 

A few downpours possible in the early evening then drying out quickly as cold front moves east. 

(Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini)

(Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini)

WEDNESDAY: A great start to the day with some sunshine. Much cooler with highs in the upper 70s. Sunshine and scattered clouds and less humid.

THURSDAY: A cool morning in the 50s. Highs climb to the middle 70s which is below normal. Dry with sunshine and a few clouds.

FRIDAY:  A great end to the work week. Still not muggy and cool enough to give the air conditioning unit a break. Highs in the middle 70s with plenty of sunshine.

SATURDAY: Great start to the weekend. Dry with highs in the upper 70s.

WPAFB Tuesday Weather: Showers, storms today; highs reach mid-80s

Published: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 @ 1:03 AM

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — It will be another warm and muggy start on Tuesday with increasing clouds through the day, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Eric Elwell.

RELATED: WHIO Interactive Radar 

Pack your umbrella as showers and storms will become likely by mid-afternoon. A few storms could be intense and contain strong winds as well as some large hail.

RELATED: Mark your calendar now; more eclipses are on the way

Also, brief but heavy rain will be possible with the more intense storms. High temperatures will climb into the middle 80s before showers and storms push through.

Any lingering showers should quickly come to an end in the early evening with some clearing at night.

A much more comfortable several days is in the forecast beginning Wednesday as lower humidity and cooler air moves in.

Partly cloudy skies are expected Wednesday with highs in the upper 70s.

Temperatures will cool into the middle 70s with plenty of sunshine the rest of the week and coming weekend.

Rain possible Monday, better chances Tuesday

Published: Sunday, August 20, 2017 @ 8:52 AM
Updated: Sunday, August 20, 2017 @ 11:50 PM

5 Day Forecast with Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell

It will be mainly dry overnight as temperatures drip into the middle to upper 60s. Some weather models hint at a light passing shower before daybreak, Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar said.

QUICK-LOOK FORECAST

  • Isolated shower or two possible Monday
  • Showers and storms likely Tuesday
  • Cooler and less humid Wednesday, Thursday

>>> County-by-County Forecasts

Graphic by Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar

DETAILED FORECAST

Monday: A hot and humid day is expected. Highs will be in the upper 80s and some spots may hit 90 degrees. Heat index values will be in the lower to middle 90s. There will be some afternoon clouds, and given the dynamics in the atmosphere, an isolated shower or two will be possible. Most of the day should stay dry, but there is a slim chance a shower or storm may fire off in the afternoon or early evening.

5-Day Rain Chances(Graphic by Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar)

>> > WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

Tuesday: Showers and thunderstorms return as a strong cold front moves through. Highs will be in the middle 80s.

Wednesday: It cools off and dries out under partly cloudy skies. Highs will be below normal in the middle to upper 70s.

>>> WHIO Weather App

Thursday: It remains pleasantly cooler with highs in the middle 70s under partly cloudy skies.

Friday: Partly sunny skies are expected with highs in the middle 70s.

Mark your calendar now; more eclipses are on the way

Published: Monday, August 21, 2017 @ 4:05 PM

The temperature dropped and the winds calmed by about 3 to 5 mph during Monday's eclipse, according to Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell. Save your eclipse glasses for the next one in 2024!

The Great American Eclipse is almost history but another eclipse is just around the corner.

There are several eclipses lined up in the coming decade. Of course, the bigger challenge will be getting the weather to cooperate so we can see these celestial shows.

Take a look of a timelapse of the eclipse taken in the Miami Valley.

»RELATED: Explaining the solar eclipse

Next up on the eclipse calendar will be a partial lunar eclipse which will take place in just over 160 days, on Jan. 31. This time, the shadow of the Earth will be cast about the moon beginning just before 6 a.m. The maximum eclipse will occur as the moon hits the horizon as it sets around 7:40 a.m.

There will be no need for special glasses to view the lunar eclipse.

»MORE: What to know about sky events

If that eclipse is too early in the morning for you, then mark your calendar for Jan. 20, 2019 when the final eclipse of the decade is expected. This should be a remarkable show (again, weather dependent) late on a Sunday evening. This lunar eclipse will begin just after 10:30 p.m. and become total at 11:41 p.m. This eclipse will be total, meaning the moon will be completely in the shadow of the earth. But the moon will not go totally dark. It will turn almost a blood color as all the sunrises and sunsets on Earth are projected onto the moon, thus the term “blood moon”.

Watch excited Lakota students react to Monday's historic solar eclipse.

And if you miss that total lunar eclipse, then the following decade will begin with two penumbral lunar eclipses on July 4 and another on Nov. 30, 2020, and a partial lunar eclipse on May 26, 2021. These will be followed by two more total lunar eclipses visible in the Miami Valley in May and November of 2022.

»WEATHER: Get the latest Storm Center 7 forecast

Of course, the more spectacular of the eclipses are the solar ones. You’ll need to bring back your eclipse safety viewing glasses for these beginning with a partial solar eclipse on Oct. 14, 2023. your eclipse safety viewing glasses for a partial solar eclipse on Oct. 14, 2023. This eclipse will be at its maximum just after 1 p.m. that day. This will just be a teaser to the main event expected across the Miami Valley just seven years from now when a total solar eclipse will be visible in our area.

Most Stunning Moments From The Total Eclipse

So, mark your calendar and set your alarm for just before 2 p.m. Monday, April 8, 2024. The sky will go nearly dark for nearly five minutes in the middle of the day during the totality between 3:09 and 3:13 p.m. with the eclipse coming to a complete end just before 4:30 p.m. If the weather cooperates, this should be one of the most spectacular celestial events here in our region in our lifetimes.

The total eclipse of 2024 will track across Mexico into southwest Texas, through Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana and then into western Ohio before lifting into eastern Canada. This time, it will be possible during that five-minute window to take your eclipse glasses off and look (briefly) at the eclipse.

So, get ready. Monday’s eclipse was just the warm-up to a decade of celestial shows ahead. Now, I’ll just have to work on the forecast and see if we can get some good weather to view these events.

Eric Elwell is WHIO StormCenter 7 Chief Meteorologist. Contact him at eric.elwell@coxinc.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.