Grab your sunscreen: Why you can burn so easily in spring
By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
Even though it's only spring and cool outside, the sun is strong enough to cause a nasty sunburn.
People should take the risk of sunburn seriously year round. Ultraviolet rays (UV radiation) from the sun strike the Earth's atmosphere throughout the year.
When the sun angle is high, more UV rays are reaching the ground and potentially your skin than when the sun angle is low.
However, even during low-sun angle periods during the winter, spring, fall, early mornings and evenings, there are still some UV rays getting through. Even on cloudy days, there are a small amount of UV rays reaching the ground.
These signs indicate a serious sunburn that requires medical attention
Are you more prone to sunburn? Dermatologists explain key risk factors
Dermatologists weigh in with tips on how to soothe a painful sunburn
How to use the UV Index to protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays
Surprising things you didn't know about your sunscreen
People who have gone to sunny afternoon football games in September and October may have noticed their exposed skin being sore and red that evening. The same may be true for outdoor exercise enthusiasts on those first sunny days in the spring.
For example, during early April, the sun is as strong as early September. By the middle of April, the sun is as strong as late August.
Generally as long as the date is within several weeks after the Autumnal Equinox (Sept. 22-24) and before the Vernal Equinox (March 19-21), most fair-skinned people can easily get sunburn when unprotected skin is exposed for more than a few minutes. The equinox is the date at which the sun's rays pass directly over the equator at noon.
Experts warn not to be deceived about temperatures being lower in spring compared to summer.
Whether or not people get a sunburn has nothing to do with the outside air temperature. It is possible to get a sunburn on a sunny day with a temperature of 40 F as well as a sunny day with a temperature of 80.
It is even possible to get sunburn in the winter, especially at high elevations. Snowcover tends to reflect sunlight rather than absorb it. At high elevations, the atmosphere is thinner and less of the UV rays are filtered out.
Some people may be more prone to getting a sunburn in the spring as opposed to the fall, since their skin has not yet tanned.
However, a base tan only offers slight resistance to burning with an effective SPF (sun protection factor) of 2-4, which is well below the minimum recommended SPF of 15, according to Scientific American.
A base tan may give many individuals only a few minutes of protection.
When a sunburn occurs, DNA in the skin has been damaged, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Damaged DNA can lead to forms of skin cancer.
Always wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 on exposed skin when outdoors for more than a few minutes at a time.
For more safety and preparedness tips, visit AccuWeather.com/Ready.
Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.
More Weather News
Weather News - January 20, 2019, 7:59:19 PM EST
A major winter storm moved across the Midwest and Northeast this weekend, blanketing areas of the region with snow and bringing some of the coldest temperatures of the season.
After the storm: Dangerous stretch of subzero AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures to grip northeastern US
Weather News - January 20, 2019, 4:54:30 PM EST
A polar plunge of brutal cold is following this weekend’s blockbuster winter storm, which can threaten lives and complicate travel and cleanup efforts.
Weather News - January 20, 2019, 3:40:01 PM EST
A quick-hitting shot of snow to start the new week across the Rockies will be enough to cause travel issues but a fresh base for the ski resorts.
Weather News - January 20, 2019, 3:38:27 PM EST
A brief surge of warmer air at midweek will be accompanied by a storm that brings drenching rain and the risk of urban flooding, but also areas of ice on the front end.
Weather News - January 20, 2019, 12:05:57 PM EST
A storm will affect the Midwest with areas of snow, ice and rain as air changes hands from frigid conditions to mild and back to cold at midweek.
Weather News - January 20, 2019, 10:25:17 AM EST
Out of season rain moving into northwestern India this week may improve air quality in areas from New Delhi, Jaipur, Agra and Lucknow.
Weather News - January 20, 2019, 3:01:45 PM EST
A major winter storm continues to create travel nightmares and a risk of power outages in the northeastern United States with an ice storm across southern New England and feet of snow to the north.
Reports: Ice storm creates treacherous travel in New England as temperatures plummet across snow-covered Northeast
Weather News - January 20, 2019, 6:40:48 PM EST
The snowstorm that caused nearly a thousand flights to be canceled at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport is expected to bring difficult and dangerous travel to a large swath of the Northeast through at least Sunday.