In meteorology we like to refer to the seasons in three month increments based on temperature and weather patterns. You may recall on Memorial Day we were talking about the unofficial start of the summer season. This week it becomes official as the summer solstice arrives. Astronomical calculations show summer officially beginning on Wednesday at 6:08 PM CDT. This is when the suns rays strike the northern hemisphere most directly. Because of the orientation of solar rays its always important to be sunwise during this time of year.
During the solstice I always get the question, is this actually the longest day of the year? If you do a search on the web you may find one or two posts about the longest day of the year being on the day of the summer solstice. That is true for areas along the Tropic of Cancer latitude. However, depending on where you live, that may not be true.
Sun angle still plays a role for areas north and south of the Tropic of Cancer. For example, a lower sun angle corresponds with cooler weather in Alaska during this time of year. According to my calculations our longest day(s), based on sunrise-sunset times, occurs on the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd. On these dates sunrise happens at 5:38 AM and sunset happens at 8:01 PM. These dates still fall very close to the solstice date but the times for the longest date (sunrise/sunset) in Alabama vary slightly.
I hope this helps you out with one of J-Ps weather 101 questions later this week.
Fox6 Meteorologist Wes Wyatt
Twitter @weswyattweather / Follow Me on Facebook