You’re telling me it’s not even summer yet? It’s like a thousand degrees in Houston! (Editor’s note: Technically, it’s 1,057, Ken.)
Actually, it’s “only” 100 degrees these days and summer meteorologically doesn’t arrive until exactly 4:12 am Tuesday, June 21. (You don’t mind if I sleep through the occasion, right?)
It’s called the Summer Solstice, from the Latin “sol” for sun, and “sistere” for standing still. It’s the day when the sun is highest in the sky and daylight lasts deep into the evening, making Tuesday “The Longest Day.” The sun won’t go down until 8:25 pm.
To be precise, it will stay light for 14 hours, 7 minutes, and 23 seconds on Tuesday in Houston. And hold the front page — it’ll be toasty.
“I wouldn’t be shocked if we see, on average, 100 to 102 degrees lasting through the weekend,” Channel 2 meteorologist Justin Stapleton tells me.
“That’s dangerous for us in Houston. If we were in Tucson, Arizona, they have temperatures that high but it’s a dry heat. It’s hot, but you can manage it. The problem in Houston is we’re located above the Gulf of Mexico, which I like to call the world’s biggest bathtub. We have so much humidity that when you get the air temperature to this level, it’s harder for the body to cool itself down. I’d say this is one of the most dangerous weather stretches in recent years.”
Stapleton said he expects “cooling centers” to open in the Houston area this week. Brazoria County already has announced that libraries will be open until 8 pm for residents to stay comfortably cool.
He said that Earth actually is farther from the sun in summer than it is during winter.
It’s not just Texas sweltering as summer arrives. The entire middle section of the U.S. is cranking up the heat. The high temperature in Minneapolis for Tuesday is 102 – same as Houston. Enjoy those cool summers, Carlos Correa.
While the U.S. sees the Summer Solstice as the start of summer, in Europe the solstice is considered the middle of summer. In Sweden, the country will shut down on Tuesday, making the midsummer’s day a holiday second only to Christmas.
In the U.S. perhaps the most famous — certainly unique — celebration of summer’s debut is the Midnight Sun Baseball Game played in Fairbanks, Alaska. The baseball tradition started in 1906. First pitch is 10:30 pm and the game is played without lights. The games usually end around 1:30 am. The game has never been rained out. The high temp for Fairbanks on Tuesday will be 76 dropping into the mid-50s by game time.
This year’s game pits the Alaska Goldpanners from Alaska’s Baseball League against the independent San Diego Waves at Growden Memorial Park. All $75 reserved seat tickets are sold out, $25 general admission tickets will be available at the door. Arrive early. Stay late. Or early if you’re one of those people who call 1:30 am “morning.”
The Midnight Sun Game has featured some of baseball’s all-time greats. More than 200 players who participated in the Midnight Sun Game, including Barry Bonds and Tom Seaver, went on to the big leagues. If you’re the wagering type, you might want to put your money on the Goldpanners. They’ve gone 29-4 on Summer Solstice night (next day) since 1988.
So enjoy the Summer Solstice and the overtime sun, it won’t last long. Beginning Wednesday, daylight in Houston will decrease by about two minutes each day (talk about a break!) until Winter Solstice on December 21, when there will be only 10 hours and 14 minutes of sun.