Jan 26, 2023 - News

The sun will finally set after 5pm

Outline of person watching the sunset from Seattle.

A person watches the sunset from downtown Seattle. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Rejoice Seattle, for our long days of post meridiem gloom are drawing to a close.

Why it matters: In a city that gets dark at 4pm during winter and where seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a real thing, the first post 5pm sunset of the year is something to celebrate.

Driving the news: Today the sun will set after 5pm — 5:01 if you want to be exact — for the first time in nearly three months.

  • The last time it was light until 5pm was on Nov. 5.
  • We've been gaining daylight, nearly 40 minutes so far, since the winter solstice on Dec. 21, when the sun set at 4:20pm.

To be sure, it hasn't always felt like a steady increase of light. One reason is because January is typically such a gloomy, cloudy month, Justin Shaw of the Seattle Weather Blog told Axios.

  • "I'll tell someone the sun set at 4:38p.m. and they'll say, 'What sunset? I didn't see the sun.'"
  • Also, because we lose twilight while simultaneously gaining daylight in January and February, the brightening effect may be muted, he said.

What they're saying: Even though it can be anticlimactic when we get to Jan. 26 and it's still dark, Shaw says, "It's a psychological barrier that we've burst through."

What's next: Don't despair, cold weather lovers, it's still winter. High temperatures in Seattle will drop to just above freezing next week and on Tuesday, there's even a chance for snow.


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