TRAVERSE CITY — Patty Olson is ready for summer and she’s not alone.
Today is the summer solstice, the official start of the season that to Olson means scenic views of blue water, fireworks and visits to Old Mission Peninsula vineyards.
There’s so many possibilities, the Traverse City retiree hardly knows what to do. But she expects to do just as she did on Thursday: walk from her house toward Clinch Park along the water.
The bay is always a priority,” she said.
Summer’s arrival means tourists, festivals and the warm weather locals thought would never arrive as a cold and bitter winter lingered well into spring.
Scott Rozanski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Office in Gaylord, said 80-degree temperatures today and through the weekend should make winter a distant memory. Expect hot and muggy summer weather with scattered thunderstorms, he said.
“It’s about as stagnant a summer-time weather pattern as we’ve seen in a while,” Rozanski said.
Weekend overnight lows should be in the 65- to 70-degree range, Rozanski said, about 15 degrees above normal for this time of year. He said that overnight warmth -- more than the muggy weather -- should usher in the start of the summer season.
“With these overnight lows, gardens are going to explode, grass is going to grow and the fireflies will be out,” he said.
Mike Norton, media relations director for the Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau, said tourists and other outdoors revelers are already “on the beaches and clogging Front Street.” Continued warm weather is a good sign for tourist season and hotels are already seeing occupancy rates swell as the National Cherry Festival nears, he said.
“We’re looking at pretty normal trends as far as hotel occupancy,” he said. “But there still can be some rooms found if you’re looking around.”
Ann Arbor resident Jacqui Heidelbaugh took pictures of the bright blue bay on Thursday as she walked along the city marina with her two daughters, Gwyneth, 9, and Lilya, 6. They always travel to Traverse City the week following Father’s Day. Heidelbaugh said it’s a good week to visit because it’s still relatively quiet, or at least more so than it is when 500,000 visitors crash the town during National Cherry Festival.
“This is one of our trips,” she said. “We like to go to the shops, a few restaurants and enjoy the water.”