Weather changes fast when October arrives in Jackson


Early last Spring, after a very mild winter, I predicted we would have a cool summer to offset the warm winter. The law of averages will prevail, I ventured. Turns out I was right. This summer was one of the coolest I can remember.

Weather, like life, follows some general, predictable parameters, but within those parameters there can be a great amount of variation. This keeps things interesting.

If it seems like the weather changes faster in the spring and fall, that’s because it does. Daylight on June 23 is two seconds shorter than June 22. But daylight on October 18 is two minutes and seven seconds shorter than October 17.

That means the days in October are getting shorter at a 60 times faster rate than the days in late June! That’s a big difference.

The longest day of the year, June 21, we have 14 hours and 16 minutes of sunshine. The shortest day is December 21 with only 10 hours of sunlight. That means 46 percent more sunlight in June than December. That’s a big difference.

It’s amusing to ask adults why it’s hotter in summer. Many will tell you that it’s because the earth is closer to the sun in the summer. Wrong! The Earth is actually closer to the sun in our winter.

Seasons change because of the 23 degree tilt of the Earth, causing the days to rapidly grow shorter or longer in the fall and spring. The rate of change is determined by the sine and cosine of this tilt. Its computation involves both trigonometry and calculus.

This also causes the sun to rise and fall in a different spot each day. In the summer, the sun rises in the northeast and sets in the northwest. In winter, the sun moves more across the southern horizon, rising in the southeast and setting in the southwest. If we lived on the equator the sun would travel directly over our heads and rise exactly in the east and set exactly in the west.

This tilt gives Mississippi some pretty good weather, especially if you like change. Our average temperature for the year is 65 degrees, which is just about perfect.

High temperatures over 60 and under 90 is my idea of good weather. Mississippi has eight of those months. And the four other months only miss that target by a few degrees.

There are added bonuses to our weather that we often take for granted: The high humidity keeps our skin from aging, which is one reason why women in the American South are so beautiful. Our rainfall is the envy of the world, most of which lacks water.

In addition, being at sea level gives us rich oxygen in the air we breathe. Oxygen is a good thing for humans.

Of course, Mississippi is famous for its long hot humid summers and, indeed, outside of Phoenix and the Middle East, we have the hottest, thanks to being at sea level.

But we have adapted. I still marvel at the wonderfulness of air conditioning. For men, the abandonment of suits in the summer has been a huge boost to our well-being. There is nothing more absurd than donning a dark suit and tie in the Mississippi summer. It should be illegal.

A similar rationality has benefited women: The abandonment of panty hose. What could be more awful in the summer. I am all for functional fashion.

Air conditioners have gotten better in cars, as well, with more powerful units and tinted windows. I use reflective sun shields and keep my windows down when parked. Super lightweight cotton clothing designs have helped immensely.


As November approaches, I will miss my coffee outside in the mornings. Throughout the summer, early morning temperatures are almost perfect. We also don’t properly appreciate our summer nights. Average lows in July and August are 71 degrees.

Allergies plague many Mississippians. I suffered for years until I finally got allergy shots. Best thing I ever did in my life (except marrying Ginny)!

Come December, I will start cranking up some fires. I love my outdoor fire pit, but inside we have abandoned wood for natural gas. I know this will make many readers cringe, but it is sooo easy and the new fake logs are very realistic. It doesn’t take much imagination to fool yourself.

I am reminded of an acquaintance who suffered a permanent neurological injury because she burned wood in her fireplace after it had been sprayed with insecticide by the pest control company. Make sure they don’t spray the woodpile.

It’s hard to talk about the weather without mentioning global warming. God gave man stewardship over the Earth and we should follow his command, but I don’t trust in mankind to save the Earth by our own ingenuity. That’s God’s job.

The rotation of the Earth, its revolution around the Sun, the positions of the moon and planets, the patterns of weather, the forces that govern the subatomic world . . . all these things are precisely aligned to the trillionth times a trillionth degree. What a magnificent creation just for us! I am perpetually in awe. This is not man’s doing.

Besides, wind and solar energy are booming. Based on the global rate of wind and solar installations last year, mankind will replace fossil fuels in 50 years, including transportation. And that’s at the current rate of growth. In reality, the efficiencies and deployment of wind and solar are just getting started.

It may be that the greenhouse gases we have released will be just enough to stave off the coming cyclical ice age. You have to have faith!

I challenge readers to develop a mental understanding of the Earth, its tilt, the phases of the moon and the position of the heavenly bodies in the sky as it relates to your position on the surface of the earth. It’s not that hard to do and it will give you a sense of grounding that will enrich your life. When you look up, there will be more meaning.

And if you feel that life is speeding up faster and faster, don’t be alarmed. Time really is getting faster as the universe expands at an increasing rate.

And when you get tired, it’s understandable. The earth is turning at 1,070 mph while revolving around the sun at 66,000 mph. Our solar system is moving around the Milky Way at 559,234 mph while the Milky Way is moving through the universe at 671,080 mph. Meanwhile, our entire universe is hurtling through some unknown medium at some other ridiculous speed. So try to relax!