First Alert Weather In-Depth: Sun angle and what it means to you

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — We did get some sunshine today, but it was not much. However, we know the season is improving in terms of daylight. When you compare today to the shortest day of the year, that is Dec. 21, we have increased the amount of daylight by almost 4 hours.

It gets even more interesting when you look at it from the standpoint of the number of degrees the sun is above the horizon. Go back to Dec. 21 and the angle is only 23 degrees. Right now we are up to 52 degrees above the horizon. And if you keep going to June 21, the summer solstice, the sun angle is going up to 70 degrees.

So what does it mean for this time of the year? This change in sun angle gives us the seasons. As we get a difference in incoming solar radiation, that’s how we get the change of seasons. So this time of the year, the sunshine has less atmosphere to penetrate. I can illustrate this for you. If I take a flashlight and use my arm as an example of the atmosphere. At a low angle, it is not going to penetrate very much of the atmosphere. But if I get a higher angle this time of the year, that sunshine is definitely going to penetrate the atmosphere.

As a result, we get greater heating at the surface. So even if we do get some snowfall this time of the year, the sunshine will melt the snow pretty quickly.

Let me know if you ever need any sunshine, I got it right here with my flashlight.