If you're anything like me and Chief Meteorologist Doug Hill, you are counting down the days until the area starts gaining daylight.
With the Winter Solstice comes the least amount of daylight in the northern hemisphere. This is because the earth is at its maximum tilt away from the sun. As we progress into January, the tilt of the earth starts to go the opposite direction bringing more daylight back to the cold, dark north. During the winter solstice, the suns rays are located directly over the Tropic of Capricorn as shown in the picture below.
Washington D.C. experiences its least amount of daylight between December 20th and 22nd (Friday through Sunday). Even though temperatures will still be in the upper 50s to upper 60s through the time period making it feel more like spring, those days are in line with the Winter Solstice which occurs Saturday at 12:11pm. Only 9 hours and 26 minutes of daylight occurs during that period. That is 5 hours and 28 minutes less daylight than the region experiences during the Summer Solstice!
By December 31st, D.C. gains 4 minutes of daylight. By January 31st, we gain 43 more minutes, getting up to 10 hours and 13 minutes of daylight. The region finally eclipses the 12 hour mark just prior to the Spring Equinox when we see 12 hours and 1 minute of daylight on the 17th of March. This is just prior to the equinox which is on the 20th. The longest days are in June between the 18th and 23rd when D.C. has 14 hours and 54 minutes of daylight. That's what I love!
If you're looking for later sunsets, you only need to wait until the 4th of January to watch the sun set at 5pm in D.C. It sets at 6pm by the last day of February, and we spring forward on March 9th in 2014, which will push the sunset to 7:09pm. The latest the sun sets is 8:38pm, which occurs on the 27th and 28th. Here's looking forward to more daylight to start the new year!