Today is the longest day of year and the beginning of summer

Published 11:27 pm Saturday, June 23, 2007

Today is the Summer Solstice, or the longest day of the year, and officially is the day summer begins, though it has felt like summer for a few weeks now.

What I have never understood about all this is why does it continue getting hotter after the solstice is past and the days start getting shorter. That has always confused me.

When I was a young child, I would argue about it. My reasoning was that the longest day couldn’t possibly be the day that it fell on simply because it wasn’t the hottest day of the year. Even then, I had learned that summers seem to grow hotter through July and August before they finally begin cooling down some time later, usually no earlier than late September, but hopefully by the middle of October.

This didn’t make any sense to me then, and really it doesn’t now. Logically, temperatures ought to rise steadily from the shortest day of the year, or the Winter Solstice, to the longest day and then begin falling off as the days grow shorter.

I must admit that after a few arguments as a child about how the Summer Solstice couldn’t be the longest day of the year, I rapidly came to the conclusion that nothing about the weather is logical. I suppose meteorologists find it logical and have all kinds of explanations about why this happens or that happens.

I wish I knew a meteorologist. Then I could ask him or her why temperatures keep rising after the Summer Solstice instead of beginning to fall. They must have some logical explanation, though I’m sure it would confuse me.

Here’s another bit of related weather news today, some news that I hope is correct, British weather forecasters are predicting that this hurricane season will be less active than American forecasters have predicted.

The British say they are using a different forecasting model than their American brethren and say that the North Atlantic will be cooler and therefore suppress the tendency for storms to form. I started to say the British forecasters predicted it would be a milder hurricane season but fewer storms don’t necessarily add up to a milder season. It only takes one Camille or Katrina to really make a violent season.

So far, the three main American forecasting centers haven’t responded to the British forecast. I suppose we will just have to wait and see who is right.

As an Irishman, I don’t usually plug for the British, but this time I am. I equate fewer storms with fewer chances that one will come barreling up through the Gulf of Mexico and hit us.

The British haven’t been in the storm forecasting business very long. I believe this is only the third year they have produced a forecast and the first time they have made it public. The first two must have been fairly accurate, or I don’t believe they would have floated their first forecast out in public this year.

I should have seen the British effort coming, though. One of my favorite authors is Dick Francis. He wrote one of his fabulous murder mysteries, “Second Wind,” about a weather forecaster and a Caribbean hurricane. The character was a British weather forecaster by the name of Perry Stuart.

Frankly, I didn’t know that the British didn’t forecast the hurricane season back then. I thought every weather service worth its salt did. I learned that wasn’t so when the story on the British forecast moved Wednesday afternoon about the British weather service releasing its first hurricane season forecast ever.

Had I known that back then, though, I hope I would have guessed that something was in the wind.

Dick Francis generally deals with things he knows about and knows about fairly well at that. You can be certain that he knew somebody in the British weather service was wanting to get into the hurricane season forecasting business. After, all some of them romp through the Bahamas and other former English colonies and probably sank a lot of British ships when the British were in the colonizing business.

I am happy to see that Francis has released another book, “Under Orders,” and that it’s protagonist is the venerable Sid Halley. It’s on my “to read” list.

I just wish he would bring back Perry Stuart and have him explain in terms that I can understand about why the Summer Solstice isn’t the hottest day of the year.