LOCAL NEWS

Buehner: When to expect more daylight after the winter solstice

Dec 21, 2022, 6:45 AM | Updated: 7:05 am
solstice...
Skyline of Seattle, Washington at night, with Space Needle visible, December 12, 2016. Image courtesy Morgan Yang Photography. (Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
(Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

It may seem like winter has already arrived with our recent snow, but on the calendar, winter officially starts with the winter solstice. This year, the solstice is Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 1:48 p.m. PST.

December 21 is also the shortest day of the year. In Seattle, the day will only be eight hours, 25 minutes, and 25 seconds long.

How to offset seasonal lack of vitamin D on winter solstice and beyond

The winter solstice is also the longest night of the year. When the sun is out, the day also marks our longest shadow since the sun’s angle above the horizon is at its lowest point.

What is the winter solstice? It is the astronomical moment when the Sun reaches the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere at 23.5 degrees south thanks to the tilt of the Earth as it rotates around the sun throughout the year.

In contrast for the Southern Hemisphere, the day is their longest time period of daylight, just like we have during our Summer Solstice in mid-June. Also of interest, those above the Arctic Circle have no daylight at all Dec. 21.

From a weather perspective, the seasons lag the winter and summer solstices since it takes time for the sun to warm the Earth’s surface, ground, and water. So our historically coldest month of the year is January even as our daylight hours start to grow. The same goes for July being our warmest month of the year, even as our hours of daylight begin to shrink.

The winter solstice has quite a history over the centuries. Early humans tracked the days by observing the Sun as it cast shadows at different times of the year. Historians believe Stonehenge in England was built to keep track of the Sun’s annual progress across the sky.

Many countries around the world celebrate the solstice, including Europe, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Iran, Japan, and parts of Eastern Asia, while in the Southern Hemisphere, many celebrate their Summer Solstice.

After Dec. 21, our daylight hours will begin to grow longer, at first slowly as a matter of seconds, and then by the spring equinox in March, peaking at around three and half minutes per day. The increase of daylight will then gradually slow, ending on the Summer Solstice in mid-June with just over 16 hours of daylight.

As I often joked just after the winter solstice when working at the National Weather Service, summer is coming!

Local News

sun...
Frank Sumrall

Seattle finally experiences first 5 p.m. sunset of 2023

Ninety days have passed since Seattle saw a sunset at or later than 5 p.m., but the city will enjoy its first 5 p.m. sunset this week.
20 hours ago
doomsday...
Bill Kaczaraba

Poll: Nearly half feel we are nearing the end of the world

In a KIRO Newsradio Twitter poll, almost half of all participants feel we are nearing the end of the world.
20 hours ago
deer...
Micki Gamez

Study: Staying in standard time leads to more deer-vehicle collisions

When we turn back our clocks each November, we increase our chances of hitting deer because they come out in abundance at night.
20 hours ago
ballard business owners...
Jake Chapman, KIRO 7 News

Woman hit and killed by SPD car identified; officer was responding to call nearby

According to police, the officer was heading north on Dexter Avenue North on Monday night, responding to a ‘priority one’ call.
20 hours ago
rainier...
L.B. Gilbert

Mount Rainier, national parks receive ‘record-setting’ $1.1 million

Washington’s National Park Fund announced that they were distributing $1.1 million to use at projects to improve the parks.
20 hours ago
robbery...
L.B. Gilbert

Man had gun held to head during robbery at Silverdale ATM 

Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a man after he allegedly robbed someone at gunpoint in Silverdale Wednesday.
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Buehner: When to expect more daylight after the winter solstice