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July 28th, 2010 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know

     
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When my Boston-born girlfriend complained about summer’s late start this year, I said real Portlanders know our summers start and end later than they do back east. She says I’m crazy, because “the solstice is the same day everywhere.” Who’s right? Don’t let me down; I’ve got a BJ riding on this. —Summer Teeth

I’ll do my best—God knows, I spent nine years in knowitallogy school just to look after your manly needs—but first, I need to apologize for covering the weather. Sorry.

Reporters sometimes call this time of year “the silly season.” Everyone’s on vacation, no one’s making news, and the media is stuck with baseball, surfing dogs, and heat waves.

But it’s a great time to remind you to keep your “Dr. Know” questions local and newsworthy. Who knows, your incoherent diatribe on toenail fungus could become a cover story! (Those who think I’m exaggerating should recall the cover package that launched this column last summer.)

But back to the weather: Believe it or not, Teeth, you’re actually right. Even worse for your girlfriend, her own counterargument illustrates why.

While it’s true that the solstice falls on the same date everywhere, astute observers may note that June 22 isn’t usually the hottest day of the year. Longer days are what makes summer hot, but it takes a while for the weather to catch up.

This phenomenon is called seasonal lag, and its length varies according to local geography. Since water holds its temperature longer, and our prevailing winds come off the Pacific, our hottest weather doesn’t start until August. Boston’s happens in July. San Francisco, with water on three sides, is hottest in September.

So, you win. In the specious words of Neil Armstrong: Good luck, Mr. Gorsky.

 
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