The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


December 21, 2013

Today is shortest of year

Don't expect a white Christmas, Accuweather says

SUNBURY — Don’t be fooled by Sunday’s mid-60s temperature, said a meteorologist Friday night.

By the end of the week, there will be another blast of Arctic air in the Valley that will extend into the early part of the New Year, said Andy Mussoline, of AccuWeather, in State College.

Alas, there will be no White Christmas, Mussoline said.

But today, while there is still some snow on the ground, everyone can celebrate the winter solstice, he said, “which begins at 12:11 p.m.”

Winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, when the sun reaches its southernmost point in the sky. That translates to just nine hours and 32 minutes of daylight.

The solstice marks the slow return of the sun, making the days become longer for those north of the equator. It also denotes the “official” start of winter, although meteorologists consider Dec. 1 the start of the meteorological winter and March 1 the start of the meteorological spring.

“That’s because December, January and February are the three coldest months of the year,” Mussoline said.

“By the time the spring equinox rolls around on March 20, average temperatures in most areas will have already started rising. The winter solstice isn’t the coldest day of the year, either — that comes later.”

Mussoline expects Sunday’s temperature to smash the old warmest day on record in the Valley — 59 degrees in 1949. “We think it will be about 63 on Sunday,” he said.

Mussoline said temperatures will drop to more normal levels after Christmas. As for snow, AccuWeather is predicting more than 28 inches of snow in the Valley this winter. Already, 7.5 inches have fallen in December, he said. “That’s above normal, which is 2.9 inches in a typical December.”

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