(WKBN) – Today is the official start of summer. The day of the summer solstice is also the date we have the most daylight in a calendar year. While temperatures are certainly hot for this year’s solstice, the peak of our warmest temperatures, on average, isn’t for a few more weeks.
How long is the longest day of the year in the Youngstown area?
We mark the change in seasons four times a year: the summer solstice, autumnal equinox, winter solstice and spring equinox. Those times of year correspond with where the most direct rays from the sun are hitting the Earth.
On June 21, the amount of daylight we receive will be 15 hours and 8 minutes. That is the longest amount of direct sunlight we receive, a duration we have been building up to since the shortest day of the year in December.
You aren’t going to notice much of a change for several more weeks, but the length of daylight will slowly get shorter each day after today until the winter solstice. Even though this is the time of year with the most daylight, we have a few more weeks to go before the time of year when our average temperatures are at their warmest.
When are temperatures in the Youngstown area the warmest through the year?
For this date, June 21, the average high temperature is 80° and the average low temperature is 58°. The average overall temperature is 69°. But the averages will continue rising through mid-July, even though the length of daylight is declining.
The average high temperature rises three more degrees to 83° by the same date in July. The average low jumps to 61° by July 21. The average overall temperature reaches 72° on that date. Those are the highest average high, low and overall temperatures for the Youngstown area in a calendar year. The averages will also remain higher than they are today through most of August.
Why is there a lag?
So why is there a lag behind when we experience our longest amount of daylight and when our average temperatures are at their warmest? The simplest answer is that it takes time to warm everything up. Just two months ago, we were still forecasting snow. And four months ago, we had just melted away that heavy blanket of snow that sat on the ground for weeks in January into February.
We receive more energy from the sun as the length of daylight increases through the spring, but it does take time for that energy to build and warm everything up.
You can think of the “seasonal lag” like cooking in an oven. When you put the pan in the oven, it doesn’t instantly reach the peak temperatures as soon as you close the door. You have to let it sit for a bit.
It goes both ways, too. While it takes time to warm everything up, it also takes a while to cool down.
Between July 1 and September 1, we lose two hours of daylight. During that time, the average high only drops by 3°. Even though we are losing daylight, the bodies of water are still warm and there is still a surplus of energy. Compare that to the next two months, between September 1 to November 1 — where we lose nearly three hours of daylight — and the average high drops by 23°.
Also worth noting is the delay in large bodies of water warming up. It takes a long time to heat up large areas of water. Water in lakes and in the ocean is constantly moving. The movement helps transfer the energy absorbed at the surface to the lower depths. That causes the entire body to heat slower than land areas that are not fluid and do not move.
Large bodies of water, like Lake Erie, have an influence on temperatures. Air moving over bodies of water may lose some heat or gain some heat from the water. Breezes from lakes can also keep temperatures cooler.