Happy Winter Solstice!
Astronomically speaking, winter began at 8:28am today. Here are some fun facts about the solstice.
Today is the shortest day of the year.
With sunrise at 8:02am and sunset at 4:21pm, Victoria will get just 8 hours 18 minutes and 36 seconds of daylight. That makes the winter solstice 7 hours, 48 minutes shorter than the summer solstice in June.
For us in the Northern Hemisphere, the moment when the winter solstice occurs is when the sun is directly overhead of the Tropic of Capricorn (23.5° south latitude). Today, that’s at 8:28am.
We might experience the least amount of direct sunlight today, but the shortest day of the year isn’t the coldest day of the year. In fact, due to something called “seasonal lag” the coldest weather conditions are still to come! The Earth absorbs energy from the sun and the releases it slowly, so there’s a delay between when the day is shortest and the Earth receives less sunlight and when the air temperature is it’s coldest. We’ll experience the chilliest conditions in January-February. Seasonal lag also explains why our longest day of the year is in June, but the hottest temperatures come in late July-August. Seasonal lag is different all around the world.
Days get longer from now until late June!
Meteorologically speaking, winter began December 1. To track weather patterns and climate trends more accurately forecasters don’t use the astronomical seasons, in part because the dates aren’t consistent. So we break up the year into three-month chunks.
That means December-January-February is considered winter for meteorologists and climate scientists. Don’t worry, we’ll celebrate the solstice with everyone else today, too.