Lazy, crazy, hazy?
Summer does not officially end until later this month but the Labor Day weekend coincides with the end of August this year and we pause to think about the summer weather. In contrast to the past few years, many of us have remarked that it was remarkably cool. The statistics confirm that but only by a small margin.
The “dog days” of summer refer to the middle few weeks from the first week of July to the second week of August. They were so named by the ancients because that is when the brightest star Sirius (the Dog Star) has disappeared. Really? The ancients knew it was bright and they knew it was not visible during the daylight in summer because that is when it rises and sets with the sun. Their logic was that the heat from Sirius was in addition to the heat of the sun and therefore made the earth that much warmer. An early warming theory but not quite accurate as we now know that for us the heat energy from Sirius is negligible and the warmest part of the year (in the northern hemisphere) is slightly later than the longest days. In other words, more sunlight exposure translates to more heat absorbed by the earth.
Looking at the National Weather Service logs from Albany we see that the average maximum temperature for July based on the past 20 years was exactly the same as this year and the average high for August this year was only one degree cooler than average. Another way to look at the numbers is how much cooling off occurred at night. This July was actually warmer at night than the average by three degrees! August minimum temperatures were exactly the same as average.
Most of us are unable to compare twenty summers at a time. To be sure, last year’s summer eclipsed the averages by more than a few degrees and the number of scorchers was far more than average, including the six-day heat wave in July. If we are comparing this summer with last it was definitely not the same lazy, crazy, hazy scene at all. Can we call this climate change? Not at all — those trends span far more than a few months. We can call it enjoyable.