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What are ‘the Dog Days of Summer’ and why do we call them that?

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Happy Monday and welcome to another edition of Beyond The Forecast!

We are in the middle of the hottest stretch of summer in Southwest and Central Virginia, also known as “the dog days of summer.” But why do we call it that?

The phrase dates all the way back to the ancient Greeks! They figured out that the hottest days of summer came after the “Dog Star” (Sirius) rose in the night sky. Many people believed that the Sun and Sirius combined their energy to increase the temperature.

We still have about nine days left in this year’s dog days of summer as they are projected to end on August 11.

Speaking of dogs, it’s important to protect your pets during the summertime! On days where the air temperature hits 77 degrees, blacktop pavement heats up to 125 degrees. That is the threshold to burn human skin; so if it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot, it’s too hot for your pups!

The long-term trend is for MORE days exceeding 77 degrees for the high temperature in our corner of the Commonwealth.

According to Climate Central, Roanoke sees 16 more such days on average each year than in 1970. It’s a similar trend in Lynchburg: 13 more 77°+ days than in 1970.

We know that dogs still need to get their daily exercise; so if you’re walking them this summer, consider taking them into the grass to protect their paws!

Some other safety tips include going for a walk in the morning or evening when it’s cooler, providing lots of fresh, clean water and never leaving your dog in a car without air conditioning.

Switching gears to your forecast, we’re starting the new week with summer weather; however, a pattern flip to a more fall-like feel is expected by tomorrow! Meteorologist Chris Michaels breaks it down in our daily forecast article.

You can always get specific forecast details for your zone, whether it’s the Roanoke Valley, Southside, the Highlands or elsewhere around Southwest and Central Virginia, anytime at Know your zone!

In case you missed it, we’re posting great weather and science content on Here are a few links from the past week to check out:

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-- Justin McKee

About the Author:

Justin McKee presents the weather forecast on 10 News Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6 to 8 a.m. He also fills in for other meteorologists during the week.