The summer solstice will occur at 12:38 p.m. EDT on Sunday, June 21, signalling the official start of astronomical summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
However, there are several different definitions of summer. For many, Memorial Day marked the beginning of summer, since many summer activities, such as swimming, began.
Definitions of Summer
Currently, it's the height of solar summer, the quarter of the year where the most energy from the sun is entering the Northern Hemisphere, AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Brian Edwards said. Solar summer, which is centered around June 21, runs from early May to July.
Meteorological summer, another definition of summer, began on June 1.
"Meteorological summer is the quarter of the year with the warmest average temperature, running from June to August," Edwards said.
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For those who wish summer wouldn't end, there's always astronomical summer -- the longest summer of all.
"Astronomical summer starts out at the summer solstice," Edwards said. "It is when the incoming solar energy is at its maximum in the Northern Hemisphere. It runs until mid-September until the autumnal equinox, the time when solar energy is equal in both hemispheres."
Summer Weather Myths
Summer means warmer weather, sunshine and outdoor activities. It also means an increased chance of thunderstorms and a raised awareness of "heat lightning."
However, heat lightning doesn't exist, Edwards said. What people are seeing, maybe even on a clear night, is the lightning from distant thunderstorms.
"But they are too far away to hear the thunder," Edwards said.
"I've been in Pennsylvania, looked to the south and saw lightning from storms in the Carolinas, over 400 miles away," he said.
One other summer myth is that lightning can't occur in an area with clear skies -- the so-called "bolt out of the blue."
"The bolt happens first and then the sound. All of a sudden, 'BOOM!', it hits," Edwards said.
A random lightning strike can occur 10 to 15 miles ahead of a thunderstorm, he said. These bolts typically strike from a thunderstorm anvil cloud, which can drift away from the parent thunderstorm cloud.
People need to monitor their surroundings for rapidly changing weather conditions this time of year. One way you can follow the Minute by Minute™ weather forecast is to click on AccuWeather's MinuteCast™.
Thumbnail image: (Photo/Gabriele Maltinti/iStock/Thinkstock)
The potential for locally dangerous and disruptive thunderstorms will exist over the Midwest during Tuesday and Wednesday.
Areas from Central America to southeastern Mexico, western Cuba and southern Florida will be on alert into next week as a tropical system may form.
Warmth will build and evolve into a heat wave across a significant part of the western United States this week.
Rounds of heavy thunderstorms will raise the risk of flooding across the south-central United States into Friday.
Temperatures and humidity levels will throttle back as dry air expands southward in the northeastern United States through the middle of the week.
The next round of primary elections will take place on June 7 with six states heading to the polls.
Tampa, FL (1995)
Only 0.07" of rain this month - driest May on record.
Johnstown, PA (1889)
Flood disaster. Heavy rains caused overtopping of 90-foot high earthen dam Conemaugh River, 14 miles north in the mountains. The dam gave way and a torrent water roared down on the city at 50 mph. The force of the water moved a 48-ton 1 mile. Over 2,100 people died.
Burlington, KS (1941)
12.59" of rain - 24 hour record for state.