It is officially summer this weekend, which means people should prepare for gradually warmer, longer days — and maybe a bit more mischief than usual.
The summer solstice, which is Sunday, occurs when the Earth’s northern hemisphere tilts toward the sun during its orbit, said Steven VanHorn, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Spokane. The season officially continues until the autumn equinox on Sept. 22.
The solstice does not mean the weather will drastically shift. Temperatures on the Palouse tend to be delayed, VanHorn said, so hotter weather there is more common in August. In Lewiston, temperatures tend to peak in late July.
Lewiston’s hottest day recorded was July 27, 1939, at 117 degrees. Typically, temperatures peak in the mid-90s in Lewiston, one of the warmer cities in the area, VanHorn said.
As temperatures rise, law enforcement officers also tend to see an uptick in youth-related crime like malicious mischief, said John Morbeck, school resource officer for the Clarkston School District. There is an 11 p.m. curfew in Clarkston for minors unaccompanied by parents.
Officers also get more reports about drinking or fighting at Clarkston’s Chestnut Beach, but that usually involves adults, Morbeck said.
This summer is expected to be dry, as this spring had lower precipitation and warmer temperatures than normal.
“We’ve broken some records for temperatures,” VanHorn said.
Areas of drought, which extended further into the region this spring, are not expected to improve this season, but maybe fall will help, he said.
This is also the season when fire becomes a concern, especially with the lack of spring precipitation.
“Grasses, shrubs and trees, they dry out and are more susceptible to catching fire,” he said.
Dry lightning thunderstorms can also cause fires, but it is difficult to predict when or where such fires will occur.
VanHorn said people should be vigilant during summer weather, making sure they are staying inside on the hottest days. Heat waves are expected to be longer and warmer this summer, especially in late July and August.
The Clarkston Police Department responds to one or two calls a day for pets left in vehicles, Morbeck said.
“This is not the time to be bringing them to go shop and then leave them in the car,” he said. “It just gets way too hot for them.”
If an animal inside a car seems like it is in distress through excessive panting or difficulty breathing, officers can charge the owner with animal cruelty, a misdeanor criminal charge. But they are often let off with a warning and encouraged to go back home, Morbeck said.
A greenhouse effect — the trapping of gas in an area — can be created in cars, causing them to heat up more inside than the temperature outside, VanHorn said.
Morbeck said parents should also be cautious when putting their children in hot cars because they can be burned by car seats or seat belts when the weather is particularly warm.
And he said drivers should be careful when going through areas where children are playing outside.
“You’re gonna have kids everywhere in the summertime,” he said. “Be aware of your surroundings, and pay attention to things that are going on around you.”
People should also be cautious when walking or playing outside, Morbeck said, so they can be safe and enjoy their summer at the same time.
Carral may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @jaycecarral.