Later sunsets, total eclipse & 4th snowiest start on record

How about some good news for daylight starved and snow pummeled Minnesotans?

The sun set a minute later today than it did yestrday!

The sunset today in the Twin Cities is 4:33pm. Thursday it set at 4:32pm. By Christmas Day, the sun will set in the Twin Cities at 4:37pm. You’ll begin noticing a little more daylight on clear evenings in the next few days.

But wait Mr. Huttner….how can that be? The winter solstice occurs next week on the 21st right?

Right.

But because the earth’s orbit is an ellipse and not a circle, the earliest sunset time actually occurs a few days before the winter solstice. The trade off is, the latest sunrise time occurs a few days after the winter solstice…so sunrises don’t start getting earlier until around January 5th

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Me? I’m a sunset guy…so I’ll celebrate the later sunsets now. It’s my ray of hope and light that gets me though the dark, cold and snowy winter season. Just knowing and sensing the (even slightly perceptible) longer daylight in the evening is a big boost for my spirits.

Enjoy the added daylight on your evening commute, walk or other outdoor adventure the next two weeks, and beyond!

4th snowiest start to winter on record:

A whopping 34″ of fresh snow has piled up at MSP Airport since the snow began to fly this fall/winter. That’s the 4th snowiest start to winter (though December 15th) and the snowiest start in 19 years since the infamous Halloween Mega Storm Year of 1991.

Here’s the narrative from Twin Cities NWS.

“The start to this cool season has been snowy across the area, especially compared to recent years. With 34.0 inches at MSP Airport through the first half of December, it is the snowiest start of winter for the Twin Cities since 1991. Some portions of the Twin Cities, particularly the west and south have had even more snow. Here at the NWS Office in Chanhassen, 40.9 inches have been observed so far. The storm tracks of systems since the first appreciable snow on the 13th have favored in particular central and southern Minnesota. At the same time, St. Cloud has seen 11.7 inches. Eau Claire broke a record on December 11th, recording 22.0 inches of snow in one calendar day. Eau Claire is now up to an impressive 28.8 inches of snow for the season.”

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Signs of a thaw next week?

The latest models are hinting at the potential for snow next Monday into Tuesday. Stay tuned…it’s too early to make a call yet.

It also looks like a southerly flow may break the cold snap. Temperatures may push 30s by the middle of next week…and that could be a welcome change.

Full lunar eclpise Monday night (Tuesday morning)

A rare treat coincides with the winter solstice this year. A total lunar eclpise will be visible in Minnesota (pending clear skies) Between 12:33 am & 4:01 am. Totality will peak at 2:17am CST.

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The last time a full lunar eclipse coincided with the winter solstice was in AD 1554. NASA forecasts that at 1:33 a.m. ET on Tuesday, “Earth’s shadow will appear as a dark red bite at the edge of the lunar disk.”

Enjoy a quiet weekend for a change!

PH

  • Erin

    Just promise me that with the warmer temps we don’t get a rain storm like last Christmas.

    What a mess that was.. Ice chunks from hell..

  • http://stormchaserschwartz.blogspot.com Ryan Schwartz

    Still a bit out, but the GFS and Euro models are hinting at some snow for Christmas eve.

  • http://www.coacholk.com Mary in Minnetonka

    Thanks Paul. If the skies are clear, we will be up watching the moon tomorrow night!

  • John

    Paul, I have been thinking about how the sunsets change prior to the winter solstice and still cannot quite figure out how an elliptical orbit would cause this. The only way it makes sense to me is if the Earth’s orbit is not an equatorial orbit, ie if our equator is not always in line with the sun (if that description makes any sense). Could you please elaborate? Thank you.