Summer Warmth Curiosity

By Meteorologist Joe Joyce

Why do our warmest temperatures come after the summer solstice?

The summer solstice isn’t the hottest day of the year as it takes a while for the atmosphere to warm up. It’s similar to the fact that the hottest time of the day is mid afternoon even though the sun is the highest at mid-day.

A look at average high temperatures show the peak occurs in July, though August temperatures typically are also warmer than June-the month of the summer Solstice. Keep in mind that air, land and water all absorb or lose heat at different rates. Land can change temperature the fastest, while water is the slowest to change as it absorbs and retains heat the longest.

 In the Northern Hemisphere, the amount of heat received by the Earth from the Sun is increasing slowly towards summer solstice. As one goes through summer, with a high sun angle overhead, the heat received during the day is greater than the heat radiated during the night. Humidity in the lower atmosphere traps the heat down at the ground. So the average temperature slowly increases as the heat builds at the surface.

The heat input is at a maximum during the solstice and decreases after the solstice, but the rate of heat input is still greater then the rate of heat being radiated. So, the average temperature keeps increasing even after solstice, and it is only  during the later summer/early fall that the average temperature starts decreasing.

The Heat has arrived! It will get warmer from here. I hope you like it!  If not…hang in there…it sure does not last long around here.

  • JimmyJames

    I like the warm temperatures but not the humidity. Upper 70s low 80s during the day and 50s to about 60 are perfect summer temperatures for me.
    A way to know whether a day will be humid is look at the overnight lows the lower the number the day will feature comfortable levels of humidity. When those lows are in the mid 60s and higher a humid day is on tap.

  • Italo

    Hi J., I’ve found that one silver lining about the light onshore afternoon winds near the coast during spells of very hot and humid weather, is that these usually occur once the ocean temps will have concurrently begun to rise, so that the light breeze becomes almost soothing combined with the sultriness of the humid air. And by that point in the summer, actually on a day like today, also, the temps at the coast stay in the comfortable 70s, as opposed to just weeks before when they’ve been real chilly and damp in the 50s and low 60s.

  • Andrea01602

    Hello summer! Finally! =) Enjoy the holiday weekend JJ, Italo, SST, and TK. See you on the beach in Eastham… ;-)

    • Topkatt88

      Hi Andrea! I won’t make it to Eastham this summer, but perhaps next. Going to have A LOT more free time starting late in 2011. :-)

  • JimmyJames

    Thanks Andrea01602. I hope you have a great 4th of July weekend! You got some great beach weather to look forward at the moment.

  • manowx

    Last summer it lasted too long. Perhaps JJ knows something he’s not telling us as in global cooling?

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