Summer solstice to see return of sunshine across Puget Sound

Jun 21, 2023, 5:03 AM | Updated: Aug 14, 2023, 2:16 pm

Puget Sound summer...

The sun shines near the Space Needle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Right on cue! As summer begins with the solstice at 7:57 a.m. June 21, the sun will emerge across the Puget Sound region, and temperatures will once again warm up.

Magically, the same thing happened last year on the solstice when the cool soggy June of 2022 suddenly stopped, and the sun came out. June had 2.7 inches of rain last year at Sea-Tac International Airport, nearly all of which fell before the solstice.

So far this June — through the 19th — Sea-Tac Airport received 0.8 inches of rain, a few tenths of an inch below average.

With the ‘Juneuary’ weather this past week, it may be a distant memory that temperatures were in the 80s earlier this month. The recent cool weather has balanced temperatures out in June, now close to average so far this month.

Could ‘Great Seattle Fire’ happen again with current warm streak?

High temperatures on Sunday and Monday at Sea-Tac Airport were both 62 degrees, about 10 degrees below the daily average. Those cool high temperatures did not quite reach the record ‘low’ high temperatures of 58 degrees June 18, 2011, and 57 degrees June 19, 2010.

Elsewhere in western Washington, Olympia did manage to establish a new record ‘low’ high on Sunday with 59 degrees, breaking the previous record of 60 in 1981. Bellingham did the same, but on Monday, reaching only 56 degrees for a high, knocking off the previous record ‘low’ high of 60 degrees in 1964.

As summer begins, higher pressure aloft is expected to build over the region, permitting the sun to return and warm temperatures as the week progresses. By the latter part of this week, readings will climb well into the 70s, with a few of the usual warmer locations reaching 80 or better.

By this weekend, the weather pattern will involve morning clouds and afternoon sunshine with quite comfortable highs in the 70s. With the longest days of the year on hand, enjoy the opening days of summer with sunsets close to 9:10 p.m. across the region.

The summer solstice is also the beginning of astronomical summer or more commonly called the start of the summer. After June 21, days will gradually get shorter, heading to the autumn equinox in late September.

Throughout human history, many have observed the summer solstice with celebrations and rituals. For instance, ancient Greeks marked the solstice as the start of the New Year and started the one-month countdown to the opening of the Olympic Games. Ancient European pagans welcomed the solstice with bonfires amid hopes of a good fall harvest. Bonfires were also associated with magic, banishing evil spirits and leading maidens to future husbands.

Stonehenge in the south of England is aligned with the direction of sunrise on the summer solstice – one of many theories about the purpose of this megalith monument where thousands gather each year to commemorate the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

Many Native Americans participated in solstice rituals still practiced today. For example, The Sioux perform a ceremonial sun dance while wearing symbolic colors.

Today, many still celebrate the summer solstice, with parades and festivals as the most common festivity. In Northern Europe, bonfires are lit, and homes are decorated with garlands. In parts of Scandinavia, people dance around maypoles.

More from Ted Buehner: Will summer solstice feel like summer in Seattle this year?

Seattle has one of the more free-spirited summer solstice parades in the country. This year’s parade took place last Saturday.

Today, all can celebrate the start of summer with the weather outlook offering a good chance of warmer and drier conditions into September – something many can also celebrate following a cool, damp weekend ahead of the solstice.

Follow Ted Buehner, the KIRO FM news meteorologist on Twitter

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