Stonehenge and the Summer Solstice

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Every year for the summer solstice The English Heritage opens Stonehenge up for the solstice, giving people a rare chance to get up close to the monument. This year Armed police were on patrol, and extra security measures were put in place following the recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester. This year over 13,000 people were there at sunrise (4:52AM local time) It is thought ancient Britons built the massive monument as a religious site, to study and celebrate the movements of the sun and moon.  In the 1960s, the astronomer Gerald Hawkins suggested that the cluster of megalithic stones operated as an astronomical calendar, with different points corresponding to astrological phenomena such as solstices, equinoxes and eclipses. While his theory has received quite a bit of attention over the years, critics maintain that Stonehenge’s builders probably lacked the knowledge necessary to predict such events or that England’s dense cloud cover would have obscured their view of the skies. More recently, signs of illness and injury in the human remains unearthed at Stonehenge led a group of British archaeologists to speculate that it was considered a place of healing, perhaps because bluestones were thought to have curative powers.


The summer solstice here in Grand Rapids happened at 12:24 AM on Wednesday so we are now in the “Calendar summer” However for all weather-related purposes I use June 1st as the start of summer. The sad news is we now lose daylight until the winter solstice that this year is on December 21st at 11:28 AM. Here is a little weather history for the summer solstice as the date can either be June 20th or the 21st I will give a little history for both dates for Grand Rapids and Lansing
For Grand Rapids
June 20th
Going back to 1892 the average high 80.2° the average low 57.8° the record high was a hot 102 in 1953 the warmest minimum (79°) was also set that same year. The coldest low was a cool 41° in 1970. The coolest maximum was 63° in 1917. The wettest June 20th in GR was 1.84” in 1997. Last year the high was 89 and the low 69° This year the High was and the low was .
For Lansing
June 20th
Going back to 1963 the average high 79.7° and the average low is 55.8° the record hottest was 97° in1953 and like GR the warmest minimum was 77° in that same year. The record low was a very cold 35° in 1897 the record coolest maximum was 58° in 1992. The wettest was 1.83” in 1942. Last year Lansing had a high of 90° and a low of 65° this year it was
June 21st
For Grand Rapids
At Grand Rapids going back to 1892 the average high is 79.5° (there is a difference from the 20th as this is all of the years added and then divided by that number of years) and the average low is 58.0° the hottest was 98° in 1988 the warmest minimum was 70° in 2011. The coldest low was 40° in 1969. The coolest maximum was 60° in 1902. The wettest was 3.36” in 1914. Last year the high was 81° and the low was 59° This year it was
For Lansing

At Lansing going back to 1963 the average high is 79.0° and the average low is 56° the hottest June 21st there is 98° also set in 1988 the warmest minimum was 70° set in 1956 the coldest low was a cold 37° set in 1868. The coolest maximum was 59° also set in 1968. The wettest was 1.81” in 1987. Last year the high was 81° and the low was 53°

Here is some west Michigan weather history for the summer solstice

June 20

1953: An early summer heat wave peaked with temperatures around 100 degrees. It was the hottest June day on record at Grand Rapids with a high of 102 and a sultry low of 79 degrees.

June 21

1988: The hot summer of 1988 got off to a sizzling start with record highs of 98 degrees at Grand Rapids and Lansing.

1996: A tornado struck from near Weidman to west of Rosebush in Isabella County. Three homes were damaged and four barns destroyed, along with several other outbuildings. Several silos and farm machinery were damaged. Other tornadoes hit near Frankenmuth and Imlay City.

A little more on the hot summer of 1988

1988 was a very dry summer and that had a lot to do with how hot it was. It should be noted that while the days were sunny and hot many of the nights were cool. At Grand Rapids the average high in June of 1988 was 83.0° (79.0° normal) the average low was 53.7° (57.9° normal) July the 1988 average high was 88.1° (82.8° normal) the 1988 average low was 61.2° (62.2° normal) in August the first 17 days of the month were the hottest of that hot year. and for the month the average high was 84.5° (80.6° normal) and the 1988 average August low was 62.3°(61.0° is normal) After August 17th all of the days in August 1988 were below average. And the temperature never got warmer than 80° for the rest of the year.

June 22

1957: At least four weak tornadoes hit southern Lower Michigan. At Hudsonville in Ottawa County, damage is down to a warehouse. A barn is destroyed near Pinconning in Bay County. Several barns are damaged or destroyed in Berrien and Cass Counties. Trees are taken down at Dumont Lake in Allegan County.

1992: One of the coldest summers on record in west Michigan got off to a freezing start with frost and freezing temperatures across the region. At Muskegon the temperature plummeted to 32 degrees. It was the latest freezing temperature on record there.

2015: Severe thunderstorms with brief tornadoes and downbursts strike across Lower Michigan. Portland, Michigan is hit by a small tornado with winds estimated over 100 mph.

A little more on the summer of 1992

While the highest temperature of the year was 95° on June 17th and it reached 91° on July 1st The summer here in Grand Rapids was more typical of what one would see in the UP. In June the average high was 76.8° (79.0° is normal) and the average low was 51.7° (57.7° is normal) and even with that high of 95° the month ended up at -4.1°. In July the average high was 76.8° (82.8° is normal) and the average low was 57.7° (62.2° is normal)  At Marquette the normal high in July is 76.4° and the normal low is 54.6° For the month 28 days were below average.August was no better, here in Grand Rapids the average high was 75.3° and the average low was 54.7° (normal is 80.6° and 61.0°) the mean for the month was 65.0° (-5.8°) The normal high low at Marquette in August is 74.3° and 53.1°.  July 1992 is the 2nd coldest July on record so far here in GR with July of 2009 (67.1°) being the coldest. As for August, 1992 is still the coldest on record here in GR.


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