Tuesday’s solstice means official beginning of winter in central NC

Weather Stories

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Here in central North Carolina, it has been feeling quite a bit like winter lately, but the final season of the calendar year doesn’t officially begin until the winter solstice occurs.

To start, our seasons occur due to the tilt of the Earth as it orbits around the sun. While the Earth is closest to the sun in winter, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the sun, meaning less daylight and warmth.

When the Sun is shining directly on the Tropic of Capricorn, 23.5° S in latitude from the Equator, this is the winter solstice. It means the beginning of winter in the Nothern Hemisphere, as well as the shortest day of the year.

In central North Carolina, the solstice happens at 10:59 a.m. Tuesday. The total daylight ends up being just under 9 hours and 44 minutes (9 hours, 43 minutes, and 58 seconds, if you want to be specific).

The solstice doesn’t just mark the start of winter. It’s also the day your shadow will appear the longest at noon due to the low angle of the Sun.

After the solstice, days will start getting longer in terms of daylight. Winter brings the coldest days of the year, but throughout the winter months, we gradually get to enjoy more daylight. The first day we get back to 12 hours of daylight will be March 17, 2022 — just three days before the Spring Equinox.

In the Southern Hemisphere, everything is flipped! The December solstice means the start of the summer season and the longest day of the year.

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