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Beyond The Forecast: Tracking sunrise and sunset times as days get rapidly shorter

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Happy Monday! Fall is in full swing and you’ve likely noticed the days getting shorter and shorter. This trend will continue until late December, when we reach the winter solstice (also known as the shortest day of the year).

As someone who wakes up before the sun a few days per week, I’ve certainly noticed the later sunrises recently. The sun did not come up today until 7:25 a.m. in our area. It will set at 6:46 p.m., which means we’ll only have 11 hours and 20 minutes of daylight to start our week.

We’re losing a little more than two minutes of daylight per day this month. If we examine the sunrises and sunsets over the next few weeks, we see a big drop in the amount of time we see that bright ball of light in the sky. By the week of Thanksgiving, we’ll have less than 10 hours of daylight.

We have the end of Daylight Saving Time coming up, which will affect our sunrise and sunset times, but doesn’t actually impact the amount of daylight. This year, we “fall back” November 1 at 2 a.m. The sunrises will slingshot back before 7 a.m. for a couple of weeks, while sunsets get awfully early.

Sunsets reach their earliest on December 5 and 6, then start to trend later again. Despite this, the shortest day of the year doesn’t come until December 21 (the winter solstice), when the sun will only be up for 9 hours and 35 minutes.

The sun’s rays are directly pointed at the Tropic of Capricorn on the solstice, which means the Northern Hemisphere gets its least direct sunlight of the year.

While you may be bummed out that the days are getting shorter, we can still be happy about other aspects of fall! The changing foliage and cooler temperatures should put a smile on your face, even though nighttime darkness has overtaken daytime sunlight.

Switching gears to your forecast, the remnants of Delta are exiting the region today after a wet weekend. We’re tracking two fronts that will provide a return to pleasant, fall-like weather! Your Local Weather Authority’s Chris Michaels tells you when those fronts will pass through in our daily forecast article.

You can always get specific forecast details for your zone, whether it’s the Roanoke Valley, the New River Valley, Southside or elsewhere around Southwest and Central Virginia, anytime at WSLS.com/weather. Know your zone!

In case you missed it, we’re posting great weather content on WSLS.com. Here are a few links from the past week to check out:

If you prefer your weather information delivered by social media, you can follow Your Local Weather Authority on Facebook and Twitter.

-- Justin McKee


About the Author:

Justin McKee presents the weather forecast on 10 News Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6 to 8 a.m. He also fills in for other meteorologists during the week.