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Today, December 21st, is the Winter Solstice—the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. In Australia, on the other hand, they’re preparing for summer fun.
According to the calendar, in the Northern Hemisphere, Winter runs from the Winter Solstice on or around December 21st through the Spring Equinox on or around March 20th. Meteorologists consider the Winter season to be the months of December, January, and February.
In Barrow, Alaska, the sun won’t rise at all. As a matter of fact, they won’t have a sunrise until January 23rd when the sun will rise at 1:12 p.m. and set less than an hour later at 2:06 p.m.
According to noaa.gov, average winter temperatures in Richmond, Virginia are highs of 51 in December with lows of 31; highs of 47 in January with lows of 28; and highs of 51 in February with lows of 31.
Yeah, I thought those temperatures seemed a bit warm at first, but we’ve had highs of 80 in December (in 1971); 81 in January (in 2002); and 83 in February (in 1930 and again in 1932). On the other hand, we’ve had lows as low as -2 in December of 1917; -12 in January of 1940; and -10 in February of 1936. The lowest temperature officially recorded in Virginia was -30 at the Mountain Lake Biological Station (located 30 minutes from Blacksburg) in January of 1985.
The coldest temperature ever recorded in the lower forty-eight states was -70 at Roger’s Pass, Montana, in 1954. The coldest in the entire United States was -80 in 1971 in Prospect Creek, Alaska. (All temperatures measured on the Fahrenheit scale.)
Today, the 21st, our sunrise was at 7:21 a.m. The sun will set at 4:55 p.m. Six months from now, however, the sun will rise at 5:49 a.m. and set at 8:35 p.m. I can’t wait!
The most snow from a single snowstorm in Virginia was 48 inches in January of 1996. It was in Big Meadows in Madison, County. And, yes, even pretty little Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay gets snow. In 1958 and again in 1966, they got 10 inches. On the other hand, Rochester, New York, averages 99.5 inches of snow a year, with Buffalo a close second with 94.7 inches a year. Yeah, I’m pretty glad I don’t live there.
So, if any of these facts made you long for spring, we have just three months to go—not that I’m counting…