Happy Monday and welcome to another edition of Beyond The Forecast!
It’s easy to be down in the dumps about the cold weather and lack of daylight during the winter months. What if I told you that we have it way better than residents of one city in Alaska?
We’re headed up to Utqiagvik (formerly known as Barrow) for today’s newsletter. Don’t ask me how to pronounce the name, because I don’t have the slightest idea how to!
The city is located north of the Arctic Circle. The sun went down at 1:43 p.m. local time on November 18 and hasn’t risen again since.
That’s right, the residents of Utqiagvik have been living in the dark for 65 days... until today! The sun will come up at 1:03 p.m. and set at 2:15 p.m. for a grand total of one hour and eleven minutes of daylight.
The days will lengthen rapidly in the coming weeks and Utqiagvik will enjoy perpetual sunshine starting May 12.
You’re probably asking the question: Justin, why does this part of Alaska see such wild swings in daylight hours throughout the year?
It’s all due to the Earth’s tilt, which is also the cause of our seasons. The Northern Hemisphere is pointed away from the Sun during the winter months, resulting in shorter days. This is when Utqiagvik plunges into perpetual darkness.
On the flip side, the Alaskan city goes more than two months with the sun up during the summer months as the Northern Hemisphere is pointed TOWARD the Sun during that time of year.
Which extreme would you prefer: perpetual sunshine or darkness? I think it would be awfully hard to fall asleep if the sun never went down!
Switching gears to this week’s forecast, we’re dealing with mountain snow showers and gusty winds to start the work week. I’m breaking down when the weather improves, as well as when the next storm arrives in today’s forecast article.
You can always get specific forecast details for your zone, whether it’s the Roanoke Valley, Southside, the Highlands, 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 and science content on WSLS.com. Here are a few links from the past week to check out:
– Justin McKee