Winter officially arrived to New York Harbor today at 5:44am EST. What does that mean?
It means that the dark days of December are nearly over, when the nights are at their longest.
The winter solstice is when the North Pole is at its farthest tilt of 23.5 degrees away from the sun. It occurred today at 5:44am EST. This doesn’t mean the Earth is farther away from the sun; just the North Pole is titled the farthest away from the Sun. As a result, the Northern Hemisphere gets the least direct sunlight on the winter solstice.
New York Harbor received its shortest day of the year. One last long December night. It lasted for about 9 and half hours.
But the good news is that the day after the winter solstice marks the beginning of lengthening days, leading up to the summer solstice in June when New York Harbor will receive over 15 hours of daylight.
For every day now we gain a little bit more of daylight. The days grow longer with an additional fifty minutes of daylight by the end of January.
But that doesn't mean temperatures will increase immediately after the winter solstice. On the contrary, the coldest days are yet to come in January or February. Air and water temperatures will continue a steady decline until the supply of cold air over central Canada is exhausted and high pressure in the Arctic diminishes.
A big reason for this “seasonal lag” is due to the ocean, which covers about 70 percent of our planet. Water tends to absorb much of the sun’s energy during the summer and releases it slowly over time during the fall and winter. This results in a delay between when there’s the least sun and when the air temperatures are actually coldest. The same thing happens in summer — there’s a delay between the summer solstice in June and when the hottest days usually occur in July or August. It takes a vast amount of energy from the sun to heat up water molecules due to hydrogen bonding.
So enjoy the longer days, but don’t put away your winter coat for now.