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.


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