June 1 serves as two important dates for the world of meteorology: the start of the Atlantic and Central Pacific Hurricane Season and the arrival of meteorological summer.
Climatologists and meteorologists consider the start of “Meteorological Summer” to be June 1. And while it’s the season known for warm temperatures and tropical cyclones around North America, the Earth is actually closest to the Sun in the Winter. On January 4, the Earth will reach perihelion (peri meaning “near” and helion meaning “sun”) and the earth is 3.1 million miles closer to the sun than at aphelion (on July 5 when the earth is furthest from the sun). Earth’s distance from the sun is not what causes the seasons (it is the The Equinox and Solstice) but it does affect the length of them. Around perihelion the earth is moving around 2,240 miles per hour faster than at aphelion which results in winter being 5 days shorter than summer. The word “winter” comes from the Germanic wintar which in turn is derived from the root wed meaning ‘wet’ or water’, and so signifying a wet season. In Anglo-Saxon cultures, years were counted by the winters, so a person could be said to be “2 winters old”.
The summer solstice on June 20, also known as the longest day of the year, provides roughly 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight.
While the Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season started on May 15, a basin where we’re currently watching Tropical Storm Blanca, today marks the first day of a hurricane season in both the Atlantic and Central Pacific basins that runs through to the end of November. The Atlantic basin already had its first named storm of the season in the pre-season period weeks ago; Subtropical Storm Ana, which eventually transitioned to a tropical storm, lived exclusively over the Atlantic and other than breezy showers in Bermuda, had little impact. There are currently no tropical cyclones in either the Central Pacific nor Atlantic basins at this time. But that could change.
Forecasters continue to call for an above-normal, active hurricane season in the Atlantic basin. NOAA released their seasonal outlook on May 20, calling for 13-20 named storms…of which 3-5 are expected to become major hurricanes. The NOAA forecast is in-line with an outlook issued earlier this spring by experts at Colorado State University. That outlook, issued in April, called for a total of 17 named storms of which 8 are expected to be hurricanes and 4 are expected to be major hurricanes.
The Central Pacific basin which surrounds Hawaii may not be as active as the Atlantic. NOAA forecasters say there’s an 80% chance of a normal or below normal season there. However, forecasters for all basins caution that it just takes 1 storm to create a catastrophe, even in a less-than-active season or basin.