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Originally published Monday, September 3, 2012 at 8:27 PM

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Summer not yet ready to say bye to Seattle

All signs point to autumn except for one: the sun.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Lifeguards locking up their gear. Families streaming back from camping trips. Football on TV. Yellow school buses ready to rumble. And — can you believe it? — stores already setting up Halloween displays.

Sure signs of autumn? You bet. But someone forgot to tell the sun.

"This is perfect!" proclaimed Lori Paxton, a Queen Anne resident relaxing on a Madison Park Beach bench with her husband Monday afternoon as the temperature hovered around 70 and sunlight glinted from wave tops on Lake Washington.

After a Tuesday in the mid-70s, the highs could approach 80 Wednesday through Friday before settling back into the 70s by the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. Even though Septembers are often pleasant in Seattle, this week could see temperatures well above the normal high of 74 for the month's opening days.

The biggest drama, weather-wise, is whether we'll set a record for the city's longest dry spell, and the chances look decent.

Monday was the 43rd straight day without measurable rain at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The record, 51 days, was set in 1951.

Johnny Burg, weather-service meteorologist, said dry weather is expected until Sunday or Monday, when there's "a slight chance" of rain.

The record dry stretch at Sea-Tac, which has been the city's official weather station since 1945, surpassed the record of 48 dry days set in 1922, when Seattle's official readings were taken downtown. Records there date back to 1894, Burg said.

Officially, summer lasts until Sept. 22, but Labor Day and the start of the school year are often thought of as the end of the season.

Classes start Wednesday for Seattle Public Schools. University of Washington classes begin Sept. 24.

Back at Madison Park, Paxton said that although Labor Day didn't feel like the end of summer, she was expecting that feeling to kick in about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, when she's due back at work in a school-district administrative job.

Paxton's husband, Carlos Zamora, who works in software sales, said he has traveled in recent months to several cities where the temperature topped 100, including Miami, Mexico City and Greenville, S.C.

"I'm OK with it starting to cool off," said Zamora, who said he looks forward to the first day he needs to put on a sweater.

Monday was the last day of lifeguard service at Seattle's park beaches, and a crew of lifeguards at Madison Park Beach began pulling the ropes and buoys ashore. Diving boards and ladders would be taken off the floats, which will be moved by the Seattle Police Harbor Patrol to Seward Park for the winter.

Summer beach supervisor Mike Plympton, one of the few lifeguards with year-round work with the Department of Parks and Recreation, said lifeguards at Seattle's nine staffed beaches recorded more than 100 rescues this season.

Lifeguards' winter jobs run the gamut, he said, adding that many continue in physically active work, such as diving or ski-patrol positions.

First-year lifeguard Dan Harrison, 21, who worked at Madison Park Beach, will be starting his senior year at Seattle University, studying sports science. He's hoping for a career in kinesiology, applying the science of anatomy to help athletes improve their performance.

Working at the beach "is the best summer job I've ever had," Harrison said — way better than his job last summer as a grocery-store cashier.

Harrison said he'll know when the season changes, and it hasn't happened yet:

"As long as it's sunny and I can wear shorts, it's summer in Seattle."

Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or jbroom@seattletimes.com

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