Time to Turn Back the Clocks

With Halloween arriving this Saturday, you might think it is a great time to find a costume that is a little retro.  Maybe dressing as a football player from back in the 60s, or driving around in one of those classic cars, or perhaps in our case here in the weather lab, going back to giving a forecast that included magic markers, magnets with sun and clouds on them, and sliding background images.  Okay, that last one certainly makes me glad for the technology we have available in forecasting and presenting the forecast.  Instead, I'm focusing on us going back to Central Standard Time (CST) this Sunday, November 1st.

Over the years, we have had the start and finish of Daylight Saving Time move earlier/later on the calendar.  Usually taking place on a Sunday during the fall and spring, this ritual has made us all spend anywhere from a few minutes to perhaps an hour trying to figure out how to adjust all of the clocks we use.  Some things that automatically adjust like the home computer, DVRs and even alarm clocks that get adjusted to atomic time without doing a thing, make this transition a breeze.  Of course, if you got some place to be on Sunday morning, it could cause you to either be an hour early or late...depending on which way we are turning the clocks. 

In case you forget, fall is the time that we "fall back" or gain an hour of sleep.  With Halloween being the night before, this could mean an extra hour of celebrating the holiday.  For others, Sunday will feel like you have extra time on your hands.  Perhaps for Packers Fans, that means spending an extra hour of tailgating before the big showdown at Lambeau Field against the Vikings.  Here in the weather office, all of the weather data is based off of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or Zulu Time.  So when we check out the weather maps they usually are time stamped with the date and times at 0z to 12z all the way up to 23z.  In our case during standard time, we subtract 6 hours to whatever time is indicated with the weather data.  So for instance, 18z would translate to 12pm.  When it comes to the weather records (to keep everything consistent), they are based off of the 24 hour cycle based on standard time.  This means that in the summer when we are in Daylight Saving Time, if a big storm dumps rain between 12:30am-1:00am CDT, it would be documented as having occurred the day before.  It can get confusing, especially if a record high or low takes place at these times and I have had a few debates with the local NWS in the past about it...but as I said it's all about consistency.

Either way, don't forget to adjust your clocks back Saturday night, check/change the battery in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and  if all else fails, check out time.gov to get the exact time right down to the second.

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