Sunlight headed our way

“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night!”

Steve Martin

It is barely winter, if you’ve already grown weary of short days and are looking forward to more sunlight, you won’t have to wait much longer. Saturday was the first day of winter, the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, bringing us the shortest daylight period and longest night of the year. Going forward, however, the days will gradually lengthen as the sun climbs higher in the sky over the next six months.

Winter inspires both joy and woe. Some people look forward to the colder weather, snow, sledding at one of the area parks, ice skating, curling up by a fire and the holiday spirit. You notice a peaceful sort of silence when you walk through the woods or along a littletraveled rural road — a muffled kind of silence, particularly during a moderate to heavy snowfall.

Other people dislike (no they hate) the frigid temperatures, shoveling, snowblowing and dealing with bad roads — driving many snowbirds to Florida to escape the harshness of a Michigan winter.

For what it’s worth, though, the longterm winter weather forecast issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration isn’t necessarily calling for anything too wicked this winter for southeast and mid-Michigan. The computer models tilt toward colder and wetter than average. But as we know all too well, a change by a degree or two on the negative side can change an otherwise mainly rain event into a major winter storm.

For those of you who follow the Old Farmer’s Almanc, its forecast too says winter will be slightly milder than normal, with near-normal precipitation and below-normal snowfall in most of the region (if you can overlook last weekend’s ice storm). The coldest periods will be in mid- to late December, early and mid-January, and in early to mid- February. The snowiest periods will be in mid- and late December and in late January.

For those counting the days, spring starts March 20.

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