Jan 5, 2023 - News

January is Seattle's month of gloom. But there's light ahead

Illustration of the sun peeking from a corner with a speech bubble that reads "BRB".

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

The shortest day of the year has come and gone, but some of our gloomiest days may still be ahead, according to Seattle-area forecasters.

Why it matters: While we're gaining a minute or so of evening light now, the sun does not begin to rise earlier until later in the month.

  • For people struggling with winter depression or seasonal affective disorder, the cumulative negative effects of our dark days can surge in January, Dr. David Avery, UW Medicine psychiatrist tells Axios.
  • Morning light is key for those groups, he says, because it helps regulate our circadian rhythm, affecting hormone production, appetite and sleep cycles significantly more than evening light.

Details: The average number of clear days in January? Three, according to National Weather Service Seattle meteorologist Johnny Burg.

  • That's a slight improvement over the two cloudless days we typically see in November and December, but not by much.
  • But the good news is we will start to pick up more morning light once we get deeper into January, Seattle Weather Blog's Justin Shaw says.
  • As we get closer to the equinox, the length of the days will increase dramatically, Shaw says.

What they're saying: Circle Jan. 26 on your calendar, says Shaw, as that's when we'll see our first post-5pm sunset of the year, "a literal and figurative light at the end of the tunnel."


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