Image: Say hello to the official start of winter 2010-2011 tomorrow at 6:38pm EST. Lunar eclipse overnight tonight. Details below.
Dec. 21, 2010, 6:38 PM EST (23:38 UT), marks the winter solstice—the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere. The winter solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. The sun appears at its lowest point in the sky, and its noontime elevation appears to be the same for several days before and after the solstice. Hence the origin of the word solstice, which comes from Latin solstitium, from sol, "sun" and -stitium, "a stoppage." Following the winter solstice, the days begin to grow longer and the nights shorter.
LUNAR ECLIPSE NIGHT: If you want to peak at the full eclipse, it will be sometime around 2:41AM - 3:53AM (EST) in the morning overnight tonight, but begin at 1:33AM EST.
TODAY: Skies finally cleared overnight and we are in for a mostly sunny day today. High pressure over the Ohio Vallely to start the day is building south and will be over the Deep South after sunset and roughly over the Peninsula Tuesday. Doesn't quite look like we'll gain on onshore component wind today or if we do it will be very light and restricted to the immediate coast, so clouds off the Atlantic appear as though they will remain offshore, perhaps a small speckling of stratocumulus in an otherwise dry air mass at the surface. Winds less than 12mph for the most part today under sunny skies will allow the temperature to reach the 60s today over Central Florida and approach the 70s over far SE Florida and the Keys.
TONIGHT: Surface high will have settled over North Florida with light and variable to near calm winds providing for good radiational cooling and drainage flow tonight; thus, coldest temperatures inland with the A1A corridor being the warmest - comparable to this morning's temperatures with widespread low 40s being the rule, warmer further south of Ft. Pierce.
TUESDAY: Winter will begin Tuesday night officially at 6:38pm. Whether one basis the start of winter from the meteorological or astronomical perspective, there's no doubt that it WILL be winter from either perspective by that time. High pressure will be directly overhead or centered just west of the state with a NW wind at the time under clear skies. High will be warmer state wide with mid-upper 60s being the rule for the north half of the state and low-mid 70s for the south half. This puts Brevard along the dividing line. But all in all a very pleasant day in store after a somewhat cold start to the day with a light wind.
WEDNESDAY: Weak frontal boundary over the Deep South will cross the entire peninsula during the late day with little fanfare other than maybe some clouds, but not expecting any rainfall with this one. Very little temperature change, if any with this boundary. In fact, the immediate coast could actually be warmer than past mornings by Thursday as winds will quickly gain an onshore component 12 hours after frontal passage. For the most part, the clouds will hold off until mid-late afternoon and persist for much of the overnight hours as the nearly 'backdoor boundary slides south...with any dynamics associated with it skimming the east coast offshore.
THURSDAY: Again, a warmer morning for the A1A corridor as Florida lies waiting in the wings for the next real weather maker to arrive on Christmas Day. In the meantime, little to speak of with temperature in the 40s inland (30s in colder pockets) and afternoon highs in the 60s to near 70 from South Brevard and points south. The immediate coast could eke out low 50s in the morning with a light onshore component wind, but this remains questionable north of Ft. Pierce.
FRIDAY (CHRISTMAS EVE): Pre-cold frontal conditions, with SW winds materializing by afternoon under partly cloudy skies. This could be the warmest remaining day of 2010 with widespread low-mid 70 degree readings a possibility as clouds should not be prevalent enough to put a damper on otherwise full sunshine.
CHRISTMAS DAY (SATURDAY): Cold front over the Panhandle to start the day. SW winds, but believe the cloud cover will pre-empt the possibility that high temperatures will reach those of Friday except for over South Florida. The front now appears that it will swoop the entire state during the day and into the early evening far south. It's extent will be far reaching, with the boundary defined across the entire Gulf of Mexico and eventually reaching Central America by the day after Christmas.
As it stands now, believe the front will pass through Central Florida during the early and mid-afternoon and be located near Lake Okeechobee near sunset. As such, the warmest time of day will be around noon time, Christmas Day...in the mid-upper 60s at a stretch precluding any substantial heating due to cloud cover...with a good SW wind in advance of its passage. Tempeartures falling NOTABLY behind the front before dark over Central Florida with cloudy skies and some light rain possible both in advance and shortly after frontal passage. Skies clearing after dark.
SUNDAY: Cold! The front will clear Cuba and Jamaica, and may very well clear the Dominican Republic if that tells us anything. Believe we'll be hearing about freeze warnings (widespread) once again especially for Monday and Tuesday mornings with cold (by Florida standards) afternoon high temperatures as well supported by a breezy NW wind. This one might not have quite the gusto as our last 'big one', but it will be close enough to be comparable. Drat!
MORE ON THE SOLSTICE: In astronomy, the solstice is either of the two times a year when the Sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator, the great circle on the celestial sphere that is on the same plane as the earth's equator. In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs either December 21 or 22, when the sun shines directly over the tropic of Capricorn; the summer solstice occurs either June 20 or 21, when the sun shines directly over the tropic of Cancer. In the Southern Hemisphere, the winter and summer solstices are reversed.