Hold on! What happened to the fall? Is winter here already? Where did all the daylight go? How can daylight savings end already? Can it really be that the sun is now setting at 5 p.m? Horrors!
Alas, that’s life in the latitudes of southeastern United States. Summer seems to last forever with its relentless heat and then, bam! just like that, somebody turns off the lights.
It would be different if we lived near the equator. There would be no seasons. No cold winter. No hot summer. Every day would be 12 hours.
The best living environments in the world are in South America and Africa. Vast regions are on the equator yet sit on elevated continental planes that keep the weather cool and perfect year round.
Sao Paulo Brazil is one of the most populous cities in the world. You can see why. The hottest month, February, has average high temperatures of 84 degrees. The coldest month, July, has average high temperatures of 71.
In Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, which sits on the equator is even better. The hottest month is February with an average high of 80 degrees. The coldest month is July with an average high of 72 degrees.
Even at sea level, it’s nice on the equator. Libreville, the capital of Gabon, Africa, has average highs of 86 degrees in the summer and 80 degrees in the winter.
Mexico’s 20 million people is not accidental. Summer highs average 80 degrees. Winter highs average 72 degrees. Talk about nice!
Even Australia has it much milder than Mississippi. Sydney’s average high is 80 degrees in the summer and 64 degrees in the winter.
Jackson is much less mild. Our average highs are 92 degrees in the summer. That number would be higher if not for the cooling effects of countless afternoon thunderstorms. Unfortunately, it’s hard to enjoy cooler weather when it’s raining.
Jackson winter highs are around 57 degrees. Warm enough to enjoy the outdoors on most days, but still cold enough to feel like winter. Still, that’s a 35 degree difference between the average high in summer and the average high in winter. That’s a huge swing.
Before we start complaining, though, think of the millions living in Chicago where there’s a 52 degree difference between the average summer high of 84 and the average winter high of 32.
On average, Mississippians can’t complain. The average temperature for the entire year in our state is a very pleasant 66 degrees.
Many people are not aware that the days don’t grow longer or shorter at a steady rate throughout the year. Not at all. During the summer and winter months, the total hours of daylight remains about the same. The change begins at the start of spring and fall, during which the days lengthen and shorten at a very rapid rate.
During the spring and fall solstice, days grow longer by a few extra seconds each day. But in the middle of the fall and spring, the days grown longer by two minutes.
Put another way, the rate of daylight change is 60 times greater per day in the spring and fall than it is in the summer and winter. If it seems like we have no spring or fall, it’s because we don’t.
This is simply because the earth is tilted 23 degrees on its axis as it revolves around the sun. It’s a calculus equation: (f(x) - f(a))/(x - a). Like everything else in life, the devil is in the details.
A large percentage of people think the earth has an elliptical orbit and that causes the seasons. They think the earth is closer to the sun in the summer and farther away in the winter. Wrong!
In fact, the earth is three million miles closer to the sun in the winter because the earth’s orbit has an “eccentricity” of 1.7 percent.
This would cause hotter summers in the southern hemisphere except for one thing: The southern hemisphere has half the amount of land as the northern hemisphere. The cooling effect of the extra water more than offsets the extra 4 degrees caused by the sun being closer during the southern hemisphere summer.
Hot temperatures in summer are caused by two things: First, the days are a maximum of four hours and 16 minutes longer in summer. That means there’s 46 percent more daylight in the peak of summer compared to the peak of winter.
Second, the sunlight in winter hits Mississippi at a greater angle, causing the rays to be dispersed over a greater area. This spreading effect lowers the ability of the sun’s rays to heat the surface.
This spring I predicted a super hot summer because the winter was so cold. A hot summer offsets a cold winter, regressing to the mean.
So much for my theory. We actually had a much cooler summer than normal. I have tried in vain to find a website where I could compile accurate stats. But we hardly had any days over 100 degrees which is a rarity.
Now the El Nino is coming, which should bring us a wetter, milder winter.
One thing we do have in Mississippi is rain. Along with Louisiana, Mississippi is the wettest place in the northern hemisphere. Most of the world struggles to find enough water. That’s one problem Mississippi doesn’t have to worry about. The greenery and fecundity is beautiful.
I would hate to live in the north, but I do envy their summers. They have the sunlight at the same time they have the nice weather. Our milder weather comes when the sunlight is greatly diminished, so it’s harder to enjoy it.
I have made peace with Mississippi summers. Thank goodness, fashion has adapted. Men are no longer expected to wear dark business suits in July. Advances in clothing technology has made the heat much more bearable. Panty hose fortunately died out decades ago. AC technology gets cheaper and better by the decade.
November 1 is the day I change my wardrobe. All the lightweight summer cloths go in plastic storage bins for six months. Out comes the heavier long sleeve shirts and thicker pants. (I never wear shorts because of bugs.)
I bore easily and enjoy change, so Mississippi weather is really perfect for me. We get all four seasons, but mildly so. I don’t get tired of the colder weather until mid-February, which is when spring begins here. Even in the dead of winter, I have few problems playing golf or tennis or any other outdoor activity. This is truly a blessing.
I know everybody is worried about global warming, especially young people. Indeed, God calls us to be good stewards of his creation. But as I observe how perfectly fine-tuned the world and the universe is, I have faith that a force more powerful than humanity will make sure we continue to live and breathe and enjoy this infinitely beautiful place called Earth.