The hot, lazy ‘dog days’ of summer just officially began

Published 11:00 am Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The weather forecast in May, which covers June, July and August, indicated nearly every U.S. state leaning toward a hotter-than-normal summer season. Lately, the temperatures have registered in the high 80s and even low 90s. Some areas have had two heat waves, which means that the temperature reached 90 degrees for three days in a row. Our hottest days usually do not occur until the end of July and extend through August.

The summer forecast hasn’t just grown hotter over the last month, but it’s also grown drier as we are seeing less than normal precipitation.

That could create drought conditions in a region that isn’t faring too poorly now, but has struggled with drought in recent years. To make matters worse, the NWS says we’re leaning into a La Nina pattern by late summer. La Nina years are associated with drought conditions for the southern half of the country.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

La Nina is also associated with a stronger hurricane season in the Atlantic, which is expected for 2024.

By traditional reckoning the “dog days” of summer are here. The Old Farmer’s Almanac lists the “dog days of summer” as taking place between July 3 and Aug. 11 of this year.

The story behind this definition is actually pretty interesting, as it references Sirius (the dog star), and how it is closest to the sun during that aforementioned time period. The Egyptians believed that the heat of July and August occurred because of Sirius, the dog star. When Sirius rose with the sun, the people experienced scorching heat, which they believed brought forth fever in men and madness in dogs.

The ancient Egyptians revered Sirius which was also known as either the Nile Star or Star of Isis. Sirius’s annual appearance, just before dawn at the summer solstice, heralded the coming rise of the Nile, which Egyptian agriculture and life depended upon.

Today, Sirius has many names: the sparkling one, the scorching one, the dog star and the Nile star. It is the brightest of the fixed stars, and here in the northern hemisphere, we see Sirius throughout the winter months. Unlike the Egyptians, who associated the approach of Sirius with scorching heat, we view Sirius when experiencing sparkling frosty nights and snow-laden trees.

The dog days of summer will not last for long, and after they have passed, it won’t be long until we are able to see the dog star in our winter sky. Then, we’ll probably be wishing for some of the summer’s heat.

Until then, turn the air conditioner up and stay cool!