Weather Education: The Spring Equinox is Here

Weather Education: The Spring Equinox is Here

Spring is ready to spring…officially! What’s known as meteorological spring started back on March 1st. This is the 3 month period (March, April, May) with the greatest increase in daylight and average daily temperatures. However, astronomical spring…aka the Vernal Equinox is here as of today!

Here is a little more info about the equinox and what it means!

There are only two times of the year when the Earth’s axis is tilted neither toward nor away from the sun, resulting in a “nearly” equal amount of daylight and darkness at all latitudes. These events are referred to as Equinoxes and will occur on March 19th (Vernal Equinox – the first day of Spring) and again on September 22nd (Autumnal Equinox – the first day of fall).

The word equinox is derived from two Latin words – aequus (equal) and nox (night). At the equator, the sun is directly overhead at noon on these two equinoxes. The “nearly” equal hours of day and night is due to refraction of sunlight or a bending of the light’s rays that causes the sun to appear above the horizon when the actual position of the sun is below the horizon. Additionally, the days become a little longer at the higher latitudes (those at a distance from the equator) because it takes the sun longer to rise and set. Therefore, on the equinox and for several days before and after the equinox, the length of day will range from about 12 hours and six and one-half minutes at the equator, to 12 hours and 8 minutes at 30 degrees latitude, to 12 hours and 16 minutes at 60 degrees latitude.

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