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The heat is on as summer begins

June 21, 2007|by JULIA COPLEY

In the Northern Hemisphere, summer begins today.

It's the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.

Because the days are longer and the nights shorter in summer, the sun has more time to warm the earth.

And that's good news for Bryant Hendrickson, shift manager at Rita's Water Ices at 1313 Pennsylvania Ave., who said he already has seen pre-summer heat increase business.

On hot days, he and his co-workers have steady streams of customers. On cool days, he said, it's "like one or two an hour."

Hendrickson should have plenty of business during summer's first weekend, with temperatures expected to be in the 80-degree-plus range, with little chance of rain.

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The arrival of summer means spring is history.

This spring's weather was just about average overall, said Greg Schoor, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

"It started out cool," Schoor said. "There (were) a couple of weeks straight where it felt like winter wasn't going to end."

Temperatures rose toward the end of spring, though. The high for June 8 - 94 degrees - tied a record for that date, according to weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site at i4weather.net.

This spring's average temperature was just slightly higher than usual, at 59.8 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Precipitation was another story.

According to the National Weather Service, the Hagerstown area received about 6 inches fewer than normal during spring. The total should be around 20 inches, and so far, 14 inches has fallen.

Tony Zartman, a senior forecaster at AccuWeather, said the deficit was closer to 3 inches.

Spring weather is no indicator of what summer will bring, Schoor said, noting that summer should bring temperatures that are about average.

"There'll be hotter days and cooler days; there'll be two weeks of upper 90s and then the next of upper 70s," he said.

Summer's precipitation shouldn't be a problem either, Zartman said.

Zartman predicted precipitation would be just below normal for the season, although he did say the weather pattern indicated a more active tropical storm season.

He predicted that the summer will start hot, followed by a cooler period preceding the hottest days in July and August.

Although it's only the first day of summer, it already is too late to put some plants into the ground, said Linda Martin of Locust Hill Greenhouse in Clear Spring.

It's too late to plant some trees and shrubs because the heat is too much for them, she said.

The next stage in gardening already is coming fast, Martin said. Fall vegetables can be planted in mid-July, although she said she prefers to wait until mid-August, when nights are a little cooler.

Staff writer Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.

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