7 p.m. sunsets start this weekend, but at a price

Mar 7, 2024, 11:08 AM | Updated: 1:46 pm

daylight saving time...

A man adjusts the time on a clock back one hour for the end of day light savings time. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

After 19 weeks on Pacific Standard Time (PST), this Sunday we return to Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). On March 10, we “spring forward” an hour at 2 a.m. early that morning.

Daylight Saving Time has pros and cons

The time change means later sunsets, but the loss of an hour comes with a price. Sleep scientists have found more than half of Americans usually feel tired after the change to Daylight Time.

But on the bright side — 7 p.m. sunsets.

Other studies following the time change have found there is an increase in traffic crashes as well as more workplace injuries on the day after “spring forward,” compared to other Mondays. Even though the circadian rhythm gets disrupted by time changes, the impacts fade away in a matter of days, similar to jet lag when flying overseas or from one coast to another.

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The Washington State Legislature authorized keeping the state on daylight time in 2019, and Oregon and California have as well. However, only the U.S. Congress can authorize one or more states to stay permanently in daylight time. In 2021, Senator Murray led the Senate’s efforts to pass the Sunshine Protection Act by unanimous vote, but the bill never made it to the floor of the House of Representatives.

Time to stop ‘springing forward?’

There is another option: Remaining in permanent Standard time. Two states — Arizona and Hawaii — do this already, and that switch does not require U.S. Congressional action. A bill that went before the legislature this year would have kept the state permanently on Standard Time, but it failed to advance, following a similar failed attempt in 2022. The legislators leading this effort are coordinating with other neighboring western U.S. states to enact this permanent Standard Time authorization collectively.

There is great debate on the pros and cons of permanent Standard Time. For instance, human health follows the sun and Standard Time shadows the natural circadian cycle. If Standard Time became permanent, then around the summer solstice in June, sunrise in Washington would be near 4 a.m. and sunset around 8 p.m. Proponents of permanent Daylight Time highlight the longer summer evening hours for more outdoor activities and decreased crime.

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There are many more arguments on both sides of the Standard versus Daylight Time debate, but what is far more clear is that a high percentage of Americans simply want to stop the twice-a-year time changes.

But because we will be switching for at least another year, fire agencies and the National Weather Service want to remind us the time change is also a good time to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon dioxide detectors, and your NOAA weather radios. Too many fatal fire tragedies occur because smoke detectors had a dead battery. Your all-hazard NOAA weather radios also need to operate when the power goes out and provide reliable warning information.

So this Saturday night, remember to move your clocks ahead one hour. Your cell phones and computers should make the time change themselves.

You can read more of Kate Stone’s stories here. Follow Kate on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

Ted Buehner is the KIRO Newsradio meteorologist. You can read more of Ted’s stories here and follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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