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Ever wonder why the shortest day isn’t usually the coldest day?

Wednesday is the “Winter Solstice” which, for any resident of the Northern Hemisphere, is the day with the shortest day and the longest night. On Wednesday, the sun’s most direct rays are over the Tropic of Capricorn, which is located at 23.5° south of the equator. Australia, Chile, southern Brazil, and northern South Africa are some of the places along the “T of C.”

But just because the days start getting longer beginning Thursday, that doesn’t mean we should expect warmer temperatures. In fact, there is usually a lag between the shortest day of the year and the coldest temperatures. Typically, the second week of January is the coldest here in Eastern Iowa and Northwestern Illinois. That’s because we’re not gaining enough warmth to really offset the plunge of Arctic air from the higher latitudes.

The same is true in Summer. Even though our longest day is just past the mid-point of June, our warmest temperatures occur in July.

-Meteorologist Eric Sorensen
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