LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Tuesday was the summer solstice and the first day of astronomical summer! The summer solstice is when the sun is highest in the sky and when we see the most hours of daylight throughout the year.

Here in Little Rock, we see 14 hours and 29 minutes of daylight on our summer solstice. This is nearly 5 hours more daylight than we see on our winter solstice (December 21st).

Hours of daylight throughout the year in Little Rock.

It would make sense to think more daylight would mean higher temperatures, and for the most part that is true. It is overall cooler in the winter when we have less daylight and warmer in the summer when we have more daylight.

But, when you look at the temperature data closely it isn’t the case. Just think about what the weather is like on the equinoxes. On the spring equinox March 21st we have 12 hours of daylight and our average high temperature is 65°, and on the fall equinox which also features 12 hours of daylight the average high temperature is 84°!

Average high temperatures in Little Rock throughout the year.

You can see from the graphic above, that the hottest temperatures occur during July and August, after the summer solstice.

Why is this?

It’s called seasonal lag. This lag is due to the heat capacity of Earth, or “the amount of heat needed to raise the Earths temperature.”

During the spring months the sun is heating up already cold oceans and cold ground. It takes a lot of energy and a lot of time to heat the Earth, and most of the suns energy in the spring is used up warming the earth. Think about the weather in May and July. During both months the sun is the same strength and at the same angle. The difference is, during May much of the suns energy is used to warm up the oceans and the ground, while in July the earth is alread warmed and the suns energy can be used for additional heating.

To sum it up, if you were looking from relief from the heat, you will need to wail until October!

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