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Welcome To Summer, Idaho. Now, How Hot Do You Like It?

sunrise just over a mountain ridge
Rick Stillings
CC2.0 flickr Rick Stillings
The summer solstice, better known as the first official day of summer was June 20, 2021.

If you like daylight, you’re in luck today: There will be 15 hours and 25 minutes of daylight June 21, to be exact. Indeed, summer has officially arrived. “Right now, we're at our maximum tilt towards the sun,” said Michael Cantin, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service Office in Boise.

But the Treasure Valley didn’t wait for summer to officially arrive to begin its return to big heat. In fact, Boise is on track to have one of the hottest June’s on record.

“As we go through the month, we've reached an average of 71.9 degrees, which is right now sitting at the fifth warmest June on record since records have been kept in Boise,” said Cantin.

The meteorologist visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about the summer solstice, what we can expect in the near future (hint: expect triple digits), and the long range outlook for the foreseeable future.

“It’s going to be more heat, as we go through the next few weeks.”
Michael Cantin

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It is Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning. I'm George Prentice. Monday, June 21st, 2021. And here we are officially in summer. Michael Cantin is here. He is meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Boise. Mike, good morning.

MICHAEL CANTIN: Good morning, George. Good to talk with you.

PRENTICE: First… you can give us a bit of a science refresher? What does the summer solstice mean?

CANTIN: Well, the solstice itself is all based upon how the earth's tilt changes as we go through the year. And the summer solstice, specifically, is when the tilt of the earth is tilting the northern hemisphere north of the equator toward the sun. And the solstice is when the sun is at its most northern point. So, it tilted as far as we can towards the sun, the northern hemisphere. The sun is actually directly overhead of the Tropic of Cancer, which is north of the equator. And then from now until the autumn solstice, we start tilting back the other way. So, right now we're at our maximum tilt towards the sun. And that's called the summer solstice.

PRENTICE: And are we at that point where the length of our days is at a maximum?

CANTIN: Yes. And so it does give us the longest amount of daylight. In fact, as we look back at yesterday, we had 15 hours and 26 minutes of daylight… one less minute today… the longest days of the year.

PRENTICE: I think I should know this. Is it the total opposite in the southern hemisphere?

CANTIN: Yes, absolutely. So, it's basically their first day of winter south of the equator.

PRENTICE: Let's talk weather. Here we are Monday. What can you tell us about what we may expect in the next few days?

CANTIN: It looks like continued heat, George. It's going to be pretty… when we may see temperatures a little bit cooler to start the week… as we head towards the middle of the week. temperatures in general still above normal. Normally, we're right now in kind of the mid to lower 80s and we're going to see temperatures in the lower 90s, maybe creeping up to mid 90s. And the warmest spots as we get towards the weekend… it does look like that the triple digit heat may return as we see temperatures near100 or maybe a little bit above 100 in the warmest spots as well. Maybe a threat of some showers and thunderstorms as we go late tonight into again Tuesday afternoon. So maybe a little bit of moisture out there as well. Initially in the early week, then drying out and warming up as we head towards the weekend.

PRENTICE: This is awfully early for this type of heat.

photo of Michael Cantin, meteorologist at National Weather Service in Boise
Michael Cantin
Courtesy Michael Cantin
Michael Cantin, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service Office in Boise

CANTIN: Our average temperatures are somewhere in the mid to lower 80s for Boise specifically. Starting right now, we're seeing average temperatures typically around 83 by the end of the week. That's up to 85. And we've been seeing temperatures five to 10 to 15 degrees above normal for much of the month. If you put it in a historical perspective, our average temperature for the month of June has been 71.9 degrees. What that means, if you take every day's high and every day's low, add them together and then average it. and that average of those numbers. As we go through the month, we've reached an average of 71.9 degrees, which is right now sitting at the fifth warmest June on record since records have been kept in Boise, the warmest back in 2015 at an average of 75.9 degrees. We're not nearly that warm, but it's definitely been warmer than usual. Again, among the top five warmest June thus far.

PRENTICE: And Mike, when we see things like an excessive heat watch and excessive heat warnings, this isn't just for us to be looking at the thermometer. This is a public safety issue, and we really have to take care.

CANTIN: Yeah, absolutely. We issue those products fairly infrequently. Honestly, when you see them, what that means is that the warm temperatures during the afternoon are pretty extreme and warmer than we're used to that during this time of year. And then the overnight temperatures aren't cooling enough to give everyone enough of a break. So when we get a stretch of temperatures in the triple digits and their lows are only down in the upper 60s, that's the time we're going to start to see that those heat impacts start creeping in because our bodies don't get to cool as they need to. And if people are outside, they're hiking, and they're working that job that takes them outside. It's dangerous heat and those issues of heat stroke and heat exhaustion come on quickly. So, it's definitely not about just checking the temperature. We get excited when we see these extremes to some degree, but it is very dangerous.

PRENTICE: What's brewing… what's brewing out in the Pacific? What might we expect later this month? And as we approach the Fourth of July and beyond?

CANTIN: Right now, George, it looks like more heat is going to be the story. No significant cooldowns that we're seeing in the next week and a half or so in our weather models and our prediction ability only goes out so far, but it does look like a continuation of heat and we're heading into our dry season, honestly, is beginning in July and August. We typically don't see a lot of precipitation or cooling. And our average temperatures start creeping up into the 90s pretty quickly in the next few weeks. And so that's really what to expect… is more of the heat. Whether we're going to see the extremes…it’s too early to tell. I think we're going to see some temperatures in the triple digits. We see that every summer. Whether it’s going to be extreme warmth, that's still left to be told. But right now, we're kind of heading into that season. So, it's going to be more heat as we go through the next few weeks.

PRENTICE: And as a good many folks love this type of weather and go to the river and float or like to tan themselves, we are talking about drought conditions and it's… it's a significant issue, for our economy and recreation.

CANTIN: Absolutely, George. And it's interesting because we had for a while, a winter that was… it was pretty wet to begin with, and then it dried out. What we missed this year was a real wet spring. And so what we're seeing is mountain areas – snowpack - that's melting out two to three, maybe four weeks ahead of schedule. So folks like myself… I love recreating in the back country. I was up fishing in the back country at places where there would have been snow last year. And it's nice to be able to go fishing now. But again, we're losing some of that water supply. And so there's definitely drought issues and concerns that are creeping in. And we need to be aware of that, especially if the pattern continues. And since we're going into the heart of summer, the likelihood of dryness continuing is very high.

PRENTICE: So, at the very least, for us city dwellers, it's grabbing that bottle of water and certainly that sunscreen and keeping a really close watch on the forecasts that come out of your office. He is Michael Cantin, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service office in Boise. Thank you for what you do. Indeed, it is an issue of public safety. And thank you for giving us some time this morning.

CANTIN: You bet, George. And just a quick reminder: to where people with pets, young children with this heat… do not leave them in vehicles; that is about the most dangerous thing you can do. It is a deadly consequence. Definitely don't do that. Be careful when you're out recreating… people out camping, having fun, the outdoors with all the dryness out there in this heat, one spark because there are wildfires. And really, really be careful this year with a lot of people getting out after COVID and various other reasons, is that a lot more people in the backcountry really need to be careful out there, whether it's the heat for you, or take care of that forest and those resources by keeping things not burning.

PRENTICE: Really important. Mike, thanks so very much.

CANTIN: You're welcome. George.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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