Missing the sun? You have good reason to

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We haven’t been able to rehearse one of the many infamous songs by the Beatles “Here comes the sun” in quite some time in Central New York. How long? Try December 18th was the last time Syracuse experienced appreciable sun!! I’d say it’s about time we see some of Mother Nature’s vitamin D!

After a sunnier than normal November, especially the first part of the month, with 53% of possible sunshine compared to the normal 26% the sun has gone into hibernation essentially since the start of December. Since December 1st through the first week of January there has only been 3 days in Syracuse that have been considered sunny, or about 8% of possible sunshine! Tough, I know, especially during the shortest days of the year.

Curious to know why we’ve had such a difficult time the last 5 to 6 weeks in getting the sun to shine? Well there are a few reasons. The first of which is the lack of much wind over the last several days and weeks overall. Central New York has been in between the northern and southern branches of the jet stream more often than not, especially lately. This leaves us in no mans land, or an area without much wind flow. The lack of wind makes it difficult to mix out any low clouds/low level moisture in the atmosphere.

The second factor is the very low sun angle this time of year near the Winter Solstice. When the sun angle is low/less direct the ability of the sun to warm and dry us out is not that great/effective. Compare the sun angle of January to March and it’s a different story as you can see below in the graphics. The sun angle is much higher/more direct in March compared to January and as a result you usually see less gray days in March.

NOTICE THE SUN IS LOWER IN THE SKY IN JANUARY COMPARED TO MARCH BELOW
NOTICE THE HIGHER SUN IN THE MARCH SKY

Lastly, it hasn’t been that cold this winter so far with really no arctic outbreaks through the first part of January. Why does this have anything to do with the lack of sun? Well, colder air holds less moisture than milder air so when the air is unseasonably mild in the winter like it’s been this winter so far you typically have more moisture available in the air.

Good news for Central New Yorkers to round out the week into the weekend is that some drier air out of Eastern Canada is likely going to circulate into the region slowly but surely and should lead to at least somewhat brighter days ahead. Yes, I think we will be able to all sing that classic by the Beatles while enjoying some rays come the weekend!

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