BRIGHTER DAYS AHEAD: The Power of the Sun

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Here is a ray of hope during the middle of winter. The sun angle is getting higher and higher, allowing for more and more of the sun's energy to reach the surface. This is great news for melting that blanket of winter that's been covering us since December 4th, when a little over four inches of the white stuff erased all signs of fall. The amount of daylight is also increasing and that is very important. The energy that warms the air is cumulative. If the sun is above the horizon longer, the earth's surface, via sunlight absorption will be able to warm the air more, hence increasing our daily temperatures.

The extra daylight will give us more time to get out and enjoy the days. Between the Winter Solstice on December 21 and the Summer Solstice on June 21, we will add almost 7 hours of daylight to our daily routine. We reach the half way point on the Spring Equinox, when we have 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. Now, you may be asking yourself why that half and half day falls on the 17th of March instead of the 21st. Simple,  its half and half on the first day of spring at the equator and we are just a bit north of that, so its offset by a few days.

That sunlight angle is a measly 26° on the first day of winter and climbs to 60° on the first day of summer, almost straight overhead. All that sun beats down and really heats things up around here in the summer.

Once the snow cover starts to shrink, less and less of the sun's energy is reflected back into space. The surface then warms more and more until all that white stuff is gone. The picture below explains this process, known as albedo, if you want to impress your friends.

Its really all math, higher sun angle leads to more daylight leading to more snow melt and more heat absorption. The snow cover can only do battle with that for so long.

We would love to see your weather photos! Email them to . Also I hope you will LIKE my Facebook page!/SteveFrazierFox9Kmsp and follow me on Twitter at @FrazierFox9. Thanks for watching! FRAZIER

Read more: FEBRUARY CLIMATOLOGY: A Look at Average - KMSP-TV



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