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Spring Equinox: Why some cities gain sunlight faster than others

Monday, March 8th 2021, 1:38 pm - The spring equinox is the first day of the new season, marking the 12 hours of daylight at all latitudes, which comes three months after the shortest day of the year.

There are many signs of spring — the first flowers in the garden, winter sports winding down, driving home from work without headlights. Some signs sneak up on you over time even when you know it’s coming.

The spring equinox is the first day of the new season and marks the 12 hours of daylight at all latitudes, which comes three months after the shortest day of the year.

Elliptical orbit around the sun

Earth rotates on its own axis at 23.5° and also rotates around the sun, which is why higher latitudes experience long winters with little to no sunlight, and equatorial regions see more consistent sunlight throughout the year.

Over a three-month period between the winter solstice to the spring equinox, Yellowknife progresses from four hours and 57 minutes of daylight to 12 hours, whereas Toronto transitions from eight hours and 55 minutes to 12 hours.

Daylight change

Yellowknife and other northern regions experience an incredibly fast daylight gain around the spring equinox. The N.W.T. capital gains over six minutes of daylight each day around this period, while Ontario’s capital is at a sluggish three minutes because the amount of daily sunlight gain increases exponentially as you move north.

However, locations close to the equator, such as Miami, Fla., see much more daylight in the winter and less in the summer. Not having to make up the same ground, only one hour and 30 minutes are gained during the equinox.

There is something to be said for late summer night sunsets and birds chirping at the crack of dawn. This is all at the cost of dealing with morning and evening commutes in darkness when the end of the year approaches.

Daylight hours

If you’re willing to sacrifice more of your winter sunlight to gain some summer fun, then northern regions are for you. If you dread the afternoon sunsets and morning coffee break sunrises, then you should head south.

Where is your sweet spot?

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