Weather Blog: When does winter really begin?

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According to the calendar, winter begins this Saturday, Dec. 21, at 12:11 p.m. For most people, this date is recognized as the official start. This is based on the Winter Solstice, the moment when the sun’s rays are lowest and days shortest in the northern hemisphere.

Some of you may have noticed that the sunset actually starts getting a little later a few days before the first day of winter, but the sunrise continues to be later to make up for it by a few seconds. Immediately after the first day of winter, days start to gain daylight and the sun angle increases. This starts out slowly (seconds per day) and reaches a maximum gain (minutes per day) on the first day of spring. Then it slows down as we approach the first day of summer.

But, did you know that meteorologists actually observe the start on Dec. 1? Meteorologists observe the winter season as the coldest three month period of the year. For most, those months are December, January and February. That also makes calculating winter averages much easier as whole months are used.

This year, we got off to a quick start with winter-like temperatures even at the end of fall. We dipped to 20° on Nov. 28 and rural areas down into the teens. We even had snow reported on two dates in November, 12th and 17th.

Either way you look at it, we are just getting started.