When is the First Day of Summer Really?

June 21st is the official first day of summer, but it doesn’t always seem like it. In some parts of the country there might actually still be a bit of a chill in the air in late June, especially at night. And in many areas of the country, it’s been hot for quite a while before mid-June rolls around.

What is it that causes this change in weather during the summer months? And what influences how hot it will be? Let’s find out how the summer season happens and what we can do to make it more comfortable.

What is Considered Summer Weather?

What’s considered summer weather is going to differ depending on where you are. The United States is a great example. In the southeast summer is marked by high humidity. If you go across the country to the southwest summer weather is extremely dry.

Even though the general consensus is that summer is hot, there can be a big temperature range across the U.S. In Texas, 100-degree days aren’t uncommon in the summertime. But up in Alaska, 75 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a hot day.

What Influences Summer Weather?

There are a few natural occurrences that impact the weather and cause the changing of the seasons. The top factors that influence summer weather include:

Altitude and Latitude

If the altitude is higher, the temperature is going to be cooler. And the closer the latitude is to the equator, the hotter it’s going to be during all four seasons.

Proximity to Large Bodies of Water

Areas around large bodies of water tend to be cooler and more temperate year-round as well as having higher levels of precipitation and humidity.

Proximity to Large Landmasses

Large landmasses, like a chain of mountains, impacts precipitation and temperature. Areas near large landmasses tend to have drier summer weather and the temperature varies widely from day to night.

Tilt of the Earth

The tilt of the Earth toward the sun determines the seasons. Over the course of a year, the Earth moves around the sun. As it does, the Earth tilts on its axis. When it’s pointed towards the sun, it’s summer. When it points away from the sun it’s winter. In the Northern Hemisphere, Summer Solstice (the first official day of summer) occurs on June 21st because that’s the day the North Pole is pointed most directly at the sun.

How Long Does Summer Last?

There is an official start and end to summer. Summer Solstice on June 21st is considered the start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. The season lasts for three months, ending around September 21st.

But these are just dates to mark the season. Summer weather can begin much earlier and last much longer in regions across the southern part of the U.S. Up north, the temperature could still crisp throughout June and there could still be a heatwave in October.

The point is, how long summer lasts is a bit subjective and depends on the local environment.

How Dangerous is the Summer Heat?

The summer heat can be very dangerous in certain areas of the country that experience sustained high temperatures. Heat-related illness can happen to anyone when the weather is hot, and if it’s severe it can be deadly.

Generally, heat-related illness escalates if the person isn’t cooled off. There are three phases:

Heat Cramps

Muscle cramping and heavy sweating that typically occurs during physical activity in the heat.

Heat Exhaustion

It progresses to heat exhaustion with additional symptoms that include nausea, vomiting, clammy skin, headache, fainting, dizziness and a fast pulse.

Heat Stroke

It becomes a dangerous heat stroke if the person’s temperature reaches 103 degrees Fahrenheit. The symptoms will get worse and the person can lose consciousness, have a seizure, go into a coma, cause brain damage or lead to organ failure.

The body can begin to overheat when the temperature reaches 86 degrees Fahrenheit outside. By the time it hits 95 degrees Fahrenheit almost no one can handle the heat anymore. At these temperatures the body has a difficult time regulating itself. The increase in sweat production can lead to dehydration.

What Can Be Done to Counter the Effects of Summer Weather?

Because of the cost, many people are tempted to turn off the AC, but that can be unsafe. There are safer ways to reduce AC use in the summer and remain comfortable.

It’s important to take preventative measures and protect yourself from heat-related illnesses, because it is something that can be prevented. There are a lot of simple ways to reduce heat risks at home during the summer:

  • Drink a lot of water each day to stay hydrated.
  • Wear light, loose clothing if you’ll be outside.
  • Pay attention to local weather advisories so you can prepare in advance. 
  • Avoid being out in the sun during the hottest time of day.
  • Use a programmable thermostat to keep your home safely comfortable while minimizing energy use.
  • Go for a swim or take a cold shower during the hottest time of the day.
  • Turn on the fan to make it feel cooler in a room.
  • Use ice packs on the head, neck, hands and feet to cool down.

If you suspect someone is having a heat stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately and try to cool them down. This is a life-threatening situation that needs medical attention.

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