EVERETT June 20: Right on time with the summer solstice, long-awaited warmer drier weather has arrived.

Higher pressure aloft building over the entire western U.S. is shoving the Pacific storm track well to the north. Plenty of sunshine and potentially the warmest temperatures of the year are expected for the rest of the week.

The average high temperature this week across much of the North Sound is around 70 degrees. The mercury is forecast to rise well into the 70s with some of the usual warmer spots near the Cascade foothills could crack the 80-degree mark.

If 80 degrees is too hot for you, relief is expected. Marine clouds anticipated to hug the outer coast Saturday are expected to surge inland Sunday, cooling high temperatures about 10 to 15 degrees. Nature’s air conditioning involving onshore flow from the Pacific Ocean will offer a regime of morning clouds and some afternoon sunshine Sunday into early next week. North Sound high temperatures will cool into the mid-60s to lower 70s.

Other parts of the western U.S. are baking with temperatures soaring above 100 degrees, well above average for mid-June. Wildfire danger is already high and firefighters are already addressing wildfires in New Mexico and California.

Longer summers:

Does it seem like summer is longer? In Western Washington, many noted in the past that summer did not begin until after the Fourth of July. Yet, in recent decades, there have been many warm May and June’s. Looking at weather records thus far this century, the average start of summer-like weather fully gets underway right around the summer solstice.

The latest seasonal weather outlook from July through September continues to maintain good odds on warmer than normal temperatures.

A researcher looked at global temperatures going back into the 1950s, and found summers are now at least 3 weeks longer than back then, starting earlier and finishing later. These longer summers with warmer and drier conditions have led to a growth in the number of wildfires, particularly in Western North America including Canada. And those wildfires have led to more smoke producing poor air quality. Western Washington has suffered wildfire smoke at some point during the summer six out of the last seven years.

Summer safety:

Now is the time to prepare for summer heat and its by-products. With the sun quite high in the sky and us experiencing more sunshine, we are not used to warm summer temperature conditions. After our recent cool spring weather, our skins will be vulnerable. Be sure to apply sunscreen to avoid sunburn. Also, continue to drink water and remain hydrated.

The very young and older adults, along with those suffering medical conditions are the most vulnerable to hot weather conditions. Remember; avoid leaving kids and pets in cars. The heat inside a car can build up quite quickly. Studies have shown that heat rises one degree per minute, even with the windows open.

In addition, our area waterways are so inviting when the weather gets hot. But remember those waters are also cold, and falling in often results in cold water shock, that gasp reflex like walking into a cold shower, that all too often results in drownings. This time of year is the unfortunate peak of drownings in the state. So be sure to wear a properly fitting lifejacket when heading to the water. Particularly when having fun on a paddleboard, kayak, or canoe.

A period of warmer drier weather has finally arrived, offering a taste of more summer weather that lies ahead. Enjoy the warm sunshine – just in a safe manner.