The winter solstice, which occurs on Dec. 21 or 22 each year in the Northern Hemisphere, is the first astronomical day of winter and also the shortest day of the year. However, that doesn't mean it gets dark out the earliest on the winter solstice.
In fact, starting next week, the sun will start setting later and later across most of the contiguous U.S.
You may wonder how days can still be getting shorter through the winter solstice, which occurs on Dec. 21 this year, if the sun is starting to set later in the day.
That is because the sun also rises later in the mornings through the winter solstice, and the rate at which sunrise times are becoming later is higher than the rate at which sunset times are becoming later.
Taking a look at AccuWeather.com's hometown of State College, Pa., for example, the time of sunrise gets pushed back 13 minutes from 7:19 a.m. on Dec. 1 to 7:32 a.m. on Dec 21. The time of sunset, however, only changes by 3 minutes, going from 4:44 p.m. on Dec. 1 to 4:47 p.m. on Dec. 21.
After the winter solstice, the opposite occurs with the rate at which sunset times become later in the day being higher than the rate at which the sunrise time becomes later in the day. As a result, the days become longer.
During the middle or late part of January, depending on your latitude, the sun will start rising earlier in the mornings, allowing the days to become even longer.
The winter solstice happens when the Earth's axis is tilted the farthest away from the sun. This year, that will occur at 6:38 p.m. EST on Dec. 21.
Smoke created hazy, orange views in Los Angeles on Saturday as the Sand Fire continued to rage less than 40 miles away from the city's downtown.
Darby will continue to deliver locally heavy rain, gusty winds and rough surf to Hawaii into early Monday. But the tropical storm will provide long-term benefits.
Gusty thunderstorms will target the northeastern United States on Monday, but will fail to sweep away the baking heat wave gripping the region.
Dangerous heat will surge northward and send temperatures soaring across the northwestern United States during the final week of July.
Downpours will spread from the lower Mississippi Valley to eastern and central Texas early this week, delivering needed rain but raising the concern for flash flooding.
With the heat of summer comes many unwelcomed pests, including mosquitoes, ants, fruit flies, wasps and stink bugs, into outdoor spaces and homes.
Lawrence, KS (1886)
No rain at all since June 26 of that year.
A hot day throughout the state; Columbus 104 degrees; Augusta - 106 degrees; Louisville - 112 degrees -- record high for state.
Tucson, AZ (1952)
60-mph winds ripped roofs off an apartment complex and an airplane hangar, sweeping dust and sand through the city and leaving 200 persons homeless.