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Weather Wednesday: The days are getting shorter as we move toward winter solstice

As the summer draws to a close, you may have noticed that it is getting darker sooner each day. You will certainly see that become very apparent over the next month and a half.

Why do the days get shorter as we move into the fall and winter? The earth’s imaginary axis and its path around the sun affect the amount of daylight and darkness we receive each day. As the earth moves around the sun during the year, the northern half of the earth is tilted toward the sun in the summer, making daytime longer than night.

In the winter, this reverses; the earth tilts away from the sun, and nighttime becomes longer.

In fall and spring, the tilt is neither toward nor away from the sun but somewhere in between, so day and night are more the same in length.

The solstices are the positions of the Earth’s orbit that mark the longest and shortest days of the year. The winter solstice in the northern hemisphere is the shortest day and the summer solstice is the longest day.

The winter solstice will occur on Dec. 21 with only nine hours and 56 minutes of daylight. The sun will set at 5:15 p.m.

Our sunset today will be at 8:03 p.m.

Using the next six Wednesdays as a reference, let’s take a look at just how much daylight we will lose

• Aug. 29: The sun will set at 7:54 p.m., almost 10 minutes sooner that it will set tonight.

• Sept. 5: The sun will set at 7:44 p.m., making the amount of daylight almost 20 minutes less than we have today.

• Sept. 12: As we enter the middle of September, the daylight hours will continue to get shorter as the sun will set at 7:34 p.m. This is almost 30 minutes earlier than tonight’s sunset.

• Sept. 19: The third Wednesday in September will provide us with a sunset at 7:24 p.m., 40 minutes earlier than tonight’s sunset.

• Sept. 26: The last Wednesday in September will give us a sunset at 7:14 p.m., providing us with 50 minutes less daylight than we will see today.

• Oct. 3: The sun will set the first Wednesday in October at 7:04 p.m. That is almost one hour earlier than we will see the sun set tonight here in Rowan County.

So get ready for those longer and cooler nights and all the fun that the fall season brings.

On a personal note, this will be my last weekly Weather Wednesday article. The demand for my time in the fall and winter does not allow me to devote the time necessary for a weekly article.

I am truly humbled by the kind words and encouraging feedback I have been given from these articles over the summer months.

I will provide weather updates in the Salisbury Post in the months of September and October. They will include my fall color forecast and my long-range winter forecast.

The fall color forecast will include peak color time tables to help you plan trips to the mountains or elsewhere to see the best colors for fall. The long-range winter forecast will provide you with information to help you plan winter activities.

In the meantime, you can get all the weather information you need from the Rowan County Weather website and social media pages.

As always, thank you for following Rowan County Weather.

In closing thank you to the Salisbury Post for allowing me this opportunity to provide you with weather information over the summer months.

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