Downtown Chemainus at twilight last week. Many think because Dec. 21 is the shortest day of the year that it’s also the exact time when daylight hours in the afternoon stop decreasing, but that’s not the case as our weather and climate expert Chris Carss points out. There’s a levelling off taking place right now where the days are indeed shorter for another 11 days but not because it’s still getting slightly darker earlier in the afternoons. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Downtown Chemainus at twilight last week. Many think because Dec. 21 is the shortest day of the year that it’s also the exact time when daylight hours in the afternoon stop decreasing, but that’s not the case as our weather and climate expert Chris Carss points out. There’s a levelling off taking place right now where the days are indeed shorter for another 11 days but not because it’s still getting slightly darker earlier in the afternoons. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Why today actually could mark the start of longer afternoons for Vancouver Island

How a small wobble in the Earth’s axis causes later sunsets even as days shrink until the solstice

A local weather observer is pleased to pass on some good news from astronomers to Vancouver Island residents looking forward to longer afternoon daylight after the winter solstice on Dec. 21.

Although the solstice has the shortest overall hours of daylight between sunrise and sunset, there is a small wobble in the Earth’s axis that causes our afternoons to stop becoming shorter as early as Dec. 10-12 on Vancouver Island.

According to Chemainus-based Environment Canada volunteer Chris Carss, the sunset time which has been getting earlier and earlier since late June finally stalls out at 4:17 p.m. on those dates this year. This value changes very little from one year to the next, but may vary a bit in different parts of the Island.

After that, the sunset times start to become later and later as the sun starts its northward migration until we have our longest hours of afternoon/evening daylight next June.

However, because the winter solstice is still the shortest day of the year, it becomes necessary to “rob Peter and pay Paul” to balance out our daylight accounts. This means our morning sunrise will continue to get later and later until after Boxing Day when the time will stall out at 8:08 a.m., then start getting earlier again around New Year’s Eve.

“So the news is not so good for early risers who like to see some daylight when they wake up during the Christmas season,” Carss said.

In June, this scenario will be turned around and the morning sun will reverse its annual migration before the solstice while the p.m. sun waits.

Carss said Dec. 10-12 also mark the Island’s statistically wettest days of the year based on average frequency of precipitation. After that, the precipitation events gradually become less frequent until the arrival of the dry season in July. In recent years, our coldest temperatures have also been observed in December.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

RELATED: Wild winter, drastic swings in store for Canada this year: Weather Network

RELATED: No early arrival for Vancouver Island summer this year

Weather

 

Christmas lights on the trees in downtown Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Christmas lights on the trees in downtown Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Chemainus weather observer Chris Carss.

Just Posted

Royston resident and photographer Tanja Kerr took a quick video of two eagles taking a quick dip in the water earlier this week. Video still/Tanja Kerr
Video: Doing some eagle watching in Royston

Photographer Tanja Kerr ensures her camera is always nearby

'I swear that dog is being good,' says photo submitter Karen Jackson.
Vancouver Island looking for a few good caring canine companions

ElderDog’s goal to expand program of assisting older adults in the care and well-being of their dogs

Paige Karczynski is the new executive director of Nanaimo Community Hospice Society. (Photo submitted)
Providing hospice in a time of pandemic

Vancouver Island hospices forced to adapt during a time when grief counselling greatly needed

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

Actions of Vancouver Island RCMP emergency response team members prevented a potential head-on collision accident on the Trans-Canada Highway on Jan. 19, says Nanaimo RCMP. (News Bulletin file)
Eight cars evade vehicle driving on wrong side of highway, says Nanaimo RCMP

Incident occurred near Trans-Canada Highway-Morden Road intersection earlier this week

A COVID-19 exposure has been reported at Shawnigan Lake School. (Citizen file photo)
Island Health reports COVID-19 exposure at Shawnigan Lake School

Shawnigan Lake School has been added to the list of schools in… Continue reading

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
RCMP asking Vancouver Island residents to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

Most Read