It's official: Summer is here

June 21, 2006 12:00 am


Slip on your favorite shorts, ignite the grill, prop open a window and brew a pitcher of iced tea.

Go ahead.

Summer starts today, and the season usually debuts in Baker City by dappling residents with sunshine rather than drenching us (and our barbecued burgers) with a disenchanting downpour.

You'll not need an umbrella today, certainly.

The National Weather Service predicts a surplus of sun for the solstice.

If the forecasters have foreseen the situation correctly, this would count as the city's seventh consecutive rain-free first day of summer — and 11th of the past 13.

Since 1994, rain showers have sullied summer's start just twice, in 1998 and 1999.

And neither of those was what you could rightly call a washout.

On June 21, 1998, the rain gauge at the Baker City Municipal Airport collected .02 of an inch of water — barely enough to spread a sheen on a blacktopped street.

The next summer solstice was only slightly more moist, with .03 of an inch.

In fact, from a meteorological standpoint, the recent run of rainless summer curtain-raisings is something of a serendipitous anomaly.

June, on average, is the second-wettest month in Baker City, which suggests that on any given day during the month, something more than a spat of drizzle is plausible.

Yet since 1994, just two June days — the 20th and the 22nd — have been more dependably dry than the 21st.

During that 12-year span, only a trace of rain has fallen at the airport on either June 20th or 22nd.

The solstice has been reliable in recent years in supplying summer's other required ingredient: warmth.

Over the past 12 years the average high temperature at the airport on June 21 was 78 degrees. On six of those solstices the temperature reached or exceeded 80, and just three times did the high fail to hit 70.

That balmy trend is supposed to continue today, with a high of 73.

Summer's arrival has not always been quite so serene, however.

1967, for instance, the year the Beatles stunned music fans with the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album.

The renowned "Summer of Love" didn't seem especially lovely in its early hours in Baker City.

On that June 21st, half an inch of rain doused the airport.

It was the wettest day that June.

The rest of that summer?

More rain fell on the summer solstice than fell in all of July. And August. And almost all of September.