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A cyclist rides on a bike route down Bannatyne Ave. during the 7th annual Bike to Work Day.

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A cyclist rides on a bike route down Bannatyne Ave. during the 7th annual Bike to Work Day. Photo Store

It's here, Winnipeg!

We're talking about summer. It officially arrived in this hemisphere at 5:51 a.m. with the advent of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, the day when the sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator, the day when we slip into our Bermuda shorts, slather on SPF 500 sunscreen and head outside to battle mosquitoes the size of Labrador retrievers.

But what does the official arrival of astronomical summer mean for you, a hardy, stout-hearted, pioneering Manitoban? Well, it means you should check your sump pump, because it's going to (extremely bad word) rain.

Now is that a surprise, or what? Here's a hint: No, it's not. If we Manitobans know anything, we know if the Red River Ex is on (or the Winnipeg Folk Festival) we should haul out our umbrellas and rain slickers.

My good buddy Dale Marciski from Environment Canada says the problem is an unstable air mass is going to bring us a mixture of sun, clouds and thundershowers over the weekend. "It's the start of an unsettled weekend in Winnipeg," Dale sighed.

"There's basically a low-pressure system coming across. It stretches from Alberta down to the Dakotas and it's been taking its time over the last few days, setting off these thundershowers."

The outlook for today calls for a mix of sun and cloud with a 70 per cent chance of showers or thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening, with a high of 26 C, compared with the normal high of 24 C when summer officially shows up for work.

On Sunday, we're talking a normal high of 24 C with a 40 per cent chance of showers. There's another 40 per cent chance of showers on Monday, the day I will personally be portraying "Summer Santa" at the St. Charles Ladies Invitational Golf Tournament in support of Rossbrook House.

For the record, while astronomical summer arrives today, the world's climatological community considers summer to start June 1 and run until the end of August. So far in Winnipeg, our summer has been -- SURPRISE! -- colder and damper than normal.

Along with the extra moisture, it's been colder -- the mean temperature this June is 15.7 C, down from the normal mean of 17 C. As for the solstice, Dale conceded even climate scientists get a little excited when it arrives. "It's kind of an interesting event," he says. "It marks the time when the sun is at its highest point in the sky and so the rays of the sun are more intense when the sun is up that high, so the UV index can be very high, too."

But you don't have to be a scientist to celebrate the official arrival of summer, kids. For starters, you can bid adieu to astronomical spring by heading to the Red River Ex for deep-fried deliciousness (Mini-doughnuts! Mmmmm!) and stomach-churning thrill rides like the freakish Mach 3 and the brand-new Remix, kind of a spinning, twisting Octopus.

You probably can't stop the rain, but you can head down to the Scotiabank Stage at The Forks today for APTN's Aboriginal Day Live & Celebration, featuring a powwow, a skateboarding competition, some of the biggest names in aboriginal music and fireworks at 11 p.m., weather permitting. Find more at www.aboriginalday.com.

We will be a wee bit disappointed if you don't find time today to visit Legacy Park in East Selkirk for the 48th annual Manitoba Highland Gathering, featuring Highland dancers, pipers, men in kilts flinging heavy objects, and Wee Willie's Scottish Pub. Tickets $8-$13 or family $30.

On Sunday morning, you and your best friend can have a howl together at the Fairmont Winnipeg Paws in Motion pet walkathon in Assiniboine Park. It's the Winnipeg Humane Society's biggest fundraiser, with the proceeds going for food, shelter and medical care for the more than 8,000 animals they handle every year. Registration starts at 8 a.m. (there's a $20 fee) and the walk starts at 10:30 a.m. You can do the full three-kilometre route or take the 1.5-kilometre shortcut.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 21, 2014 A2

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