Solstice brings lots of light, not much heat

June 21, 1992|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

Weather prognosticators say this summer will be wetter and warmer than normal, which is good news -- if you're a banana tree.

But the tropical weather of this summer season -- which officially began with yesterday's solstice at 10:14 p.m. -- will be slightly delayed by cooler-than-normal temperatures for the next week.

"Summer is going to start out on a cool note," said Ken Shaver, a forecaster with the National Weather Service at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Today's first full day of summer will bring plenty of daylight -- almost 15 full hours -- but not much heat.

The highs for the next several days will hover around 70 degrees, which is 15 degrees below the normal high of 84 for this time of year. Low temperatures will dip into the low 50s to the mid-60s at night.

The culprit is a slow-moving cold front in central Canada that extends along the East Coast from the Jersey shore to the Virginia capes. The front will remain at least through Wednesday, the weather service said.

This inauspicious start to summer could be a portent of things to come.

The summer of 1816 was uncharacteristically chilly, too, with outbreaks of cold weather in July and August. There was frost reported near Philadelphia and snow in New England. That strange cold wave was preceded by a massive volcanic eruption in Indonesia by just over a year.

It was a little more than a year ago that Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted.

But by all accounts, we will not repeat the cold summer of 1816. The National Weather Service's 90-day outlook for June, July and August shows a 52 percent chance of above-normal temperatures in the Baltimore area and about the same chance of above-normal rainfall, Mr. Shaver said.

The promise of increased rainfall is good news for Maryland farmers, who suffered through a persistent drought last summer, caused by a combination of high temperatures and low rainfall. May 1990, the hottest on record with eight days of temperatures in the 90s or above, proved to be a portent of things to come. Temperatures in June, July and August were all more than 2 degrees above normal, and rainfall fell short by about 2 inches each month.

Still, we have a bit of catching up to do. "March was the only month we've had above normal precipitation," Mr. Shaver said.

The New York Times News Service contributed to this article.

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