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.

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Hot with the slight chance for rain for the rest of the holiday weekend

Published: Sunday, May 27, 2018 @ 3:49 AM

Hot temperatures are expected through Memorial Day in the Dayton area.

A dry start expected with highs in the upper 80s to near 90 degrees. With the daytime heat, there may be an isolated shower or storm, but it looks like most will stay dry. Don’t cancel your outdoor plans, but have a backup plan indoors, Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar said. 

>>Live Interactive Doppler 7 Radar

QUICK-LOOK FORECAST: 

  • Hot and humid today through Tuesday
  • Slight chance for an isolated shower or storm today and Monday
  • Better chance for rain Wednesday and Thursday

>>WHIO Weather App

Tonight: A mild night is expected again with temperatures dropping into the middle to upper 60s.

>>How to spot Jupiter through the weekend

Monday (Memorial Day): Should be a dry day, but once again an isolated shower or storm can’t be ruled out. It will be a hot day with highs near 90 degrees.

>>UV Index: How to protect your skin 

Tuesday: Another hot day is expected with highs near 90 under mostly sunny skies.

Wednesday: Remnants of Subtropical Storm Alberto could bring a chance for rain, maybe storms with highs in the middle 80s. 

Thursday: Remnants of Alberto will give us more rain, highs in the middle 80s.

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Overnight fog likely ahead of dry start to Sunday

Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 6:55 AM
Updated: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 10:50 PM

Hot temperatures are expected through Memorial Day in the Dayton area.

A few spotty showers will continue the next hour or so, but more dry time is expected overnight, Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar said. Temperatures will drop into the middle to upper 60s. There is a good chance to see some fog overnight.

>> PHOTOS: Ominous storm clouds, rainbows over Miami Valley

    QUICK-LOOK FORECAST:  

    • Showers taper off overnight; fog likely
    • Isolated shower or storms Sunday/Monday
    • Mainly dry and hot for Memorial Day 

    >> WHIO Weather App: Check Live Doppler 7 radar, Memorial Day Weekend forecast

    >> How to spot Jupiter through the weekend

    Sunday: A dry start is expected to the day, which will be hot with highs in the upper 80s. With the daytime heat, there may be an isolated shower or storm, but it looks like most will stay dry. Don’t cancel your outdoor plans, but have a backup plan indoors.

    >> UV Index: How to protect your skin

    Memorial Day: Lots of sunshine, hot and humid again for Monday. Highs will top out near 90 degrees with a heat index from 90 to 95 degrees. Once again, an isolated shower or storm can’t be ruled out.

    >> Cloudy with a chance of Podcast: A podcast for weather fans

    Tuesday: Another hot day is expected with highs near 90 degrees under mostly sunny skies.

    >> All eyes on the Tropics and Alberto: remnants could reach Miami Valley

    Wednesday: The chance for rain, maybe storms, returns with highs in the middle 80s. Rain comes from the remnants of Alberto, the first named tropical storm of the Atlantic season.

    >> WHIO Live Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

    Thursday: The remnants of Alberto will give us more rain. Highs will be in the middle 80s.

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    Subtropical Storm Alberto: Gov. Rick Scott declares state of emergency in Florida

    Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 12:53 PM

    2018 Hurricane Names

    Governor Rick Scott issued Executive Order 18-150 on Saturday, declaring a state of emergency in all 67 Florida counties as the state continues to monitor and prepare for Subtropical Storm Alberto.

    DOWNLOAD: WFTV Weather app

    >> Read more trending news 

    By declaring this state of emergency, Scott's office said he is ensuring that state and local government has ample time, resources and flexibility to get prepared for this storm, WFTV reported.

    What is a subtropical storm?

    Scott said, “As we continue to monitor Subtropical Storm Alberto’s northward path toward Florida, it is critically important that all Florida counties have every available resource to keep families safe and prepare for the torrential rain and severe flooding this storm will bring. Today, I have declared a state of emergency in all 67 Florida counties to make sure that our state and local governments are able to coordinate with federal partners to get the resources they need. Yesterday, I directed the State Emergency Operations Center activate to Level 2 and I will continue to be in constant communication with state and local emergency management officials as this storm approaches Florida.

    TALKING THE TROPICS WITH MIKE: Alberto forms near Yucatan Peninsula - stays west of Jacksonville - heavy rain for local area 

    “If any Florida family doesn’t have an emergency preparedness plan, now is the time to act. Remember, the track of these storms can change without notice. Do not think that only areas in the cone will be impacted – everyone in our state must be prepared. I encourage every Floridian to visit FloridaDisaster.org and get your plan before this storm hits so you can keep your family safe. We will continue to provide updates to Florida’s residents and visitors and do everything to prepare for and respond to this storm.”

    READ: Alberto to drench Memorial Day weekend plans

    FOLLOW: Live WFTV weather radar

    CONTACTS
    • The State Assistance Information Line (SAIL) contact number is 1-800-342-3557. 
    • Follow @FLSert or @FLGovScott on Twitter for live updates.
    • Visit floridadisaster.org to find information on shelters, road closures, and evacuation routes. 

    Click here for local and nationwide hurricane news, tracking maps, photos, video, satellite, radar, alerts, blogs and storm preparation guide.

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    Heat Index: What is it? Why does it matter?

    Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 6:35 AM

    Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini looks into what the heat index is and why it is important.

     In the winter we talk about wind chill and in the spring and summer, it is the heat index that is important, according to Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini.

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    Both are apparent or "feels like" temperatures. The heat index is a "feels like" temperature that looks at the actual air temperature and how much moisture is in the air, either with relative humidity or dew point. When it is hot, it can be uncomfortable. When it is hot and muggy, it is a different level for our bodies. 

    The amount of moisture in the air impacts how well our bodies can cool off. When you are hot, your body starts to sweat, that sweat is then evaporated from your body into the atmosphere. If the moisture content of the air is high, it is harder for that evaporation to take place, and harder then for your body to cool down. 

    LISTEN: Cloudy with a chance of Podcast: A podcast for weather fans 

    Here is the actual equation for calculating heat index: 

     

    HI = -42.379 + 2.04901523*T + 10.14333127*RH - .22475541*T*RH - .00683783*T*T - .05481717*RH*RH + .00122874*T*T*RH + .00085282*T*RH*RH - .00000199*T*T*RH*RH

     

    As the air temperature and relative humidity increase, the heat index will as well. If it is 88 degrees with a relative humidity of 55%, the heat index would be 93 degrees. If it was 100 degrees with a relative humidity of 55%, the heat index would reach 124 degrees. This makes being outside when it is hot and humid more dangerous. 

    • 80-90° - Use caution. Prolonged activity outside or exposure could be dangerous. 
    • 90-103°- Use extreme caution. Lengthy exposure can cause heat cramps, heat stroke or heat exhaustion
    • 103-124°- Danger! Heat cramps and heat exhaustion likely. Prolonged exposure can lead to heat stroke. 
     

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