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The Start of Astronomical Winter

Posted at 8:43 AM, Dec 21, 2018

Like it or not, today is the first day of winter. The Winter Solstice brings the official start of the new season at 5:23 PM. That means today is the shortest day of the year and tonight will be the longest night of the year.

Astronomically speaking, the Winter Solstice occurs when the sun’s rays are directly over the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere. (That means for the other side of the globe it’s the first day of summer.) During winter the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the sun’s direct rays. We will also see the lowest sun angle of the year today.

Lexington will “see” nine hours and 31 minutes of daylight on this shortest day of year. The sun rose at 7:51 AM, and will set just before winter officially begins. Starting tomorrow the days will getting longer again. (Yay!) We gain over five hours of daylight between now and the Summer Solstice next June.

It only seems appropriate that we will track wintry conditions for the first day of winter. Temperatures will hold steady in the lower 40s through the afternoon. Scattered showers during the day will transition over to a few flurries and light snow showers just as we welcome winter. These will be “festive flurries.” No accumulation is expected, except for the higher terrain of southeastern Kentucky. We are tracking the snow to wrap up before wake-up on Saturday. A chill will remain in the air for the weekend before Christmas.