An early vernal equinox for 2012

The weather here in Phoenix at the moment of the vernal equinox at 10:14 p.m. is clear, calm, 49 F.  It is the earliest vernal equinox in 116 years, and only the fourth time since 1896 it has occurred on the 19th of March in this time zone.  Usually the spring equinox takes place on March 20.  It does so this year but in only two U.S. time zones, the Eastern and Central.

Not a single equinox happened on the 19th during the 20th Century until 2000.  That’s when it struck at 11:35 p.m., an hour and 21 minutes later than this year, kicking off a flurry of March 19 equinoxes, every four years on 2004, 2008 and now 2012.  The next one is 2016, followed by 2020, 2024, 2028 and 2032.  The latter year is followed by another March 19 equinox in 2033.

On 1896, the equinox occurred at 6:23 p.m., almost four hours earlier than this year.

Arizona is just emerging from a late winter storm that dumped 6/10 of an inch of rain at our house in central Phoenix.  With it has come unusually cool temps.  Today’s high was only 60.  The day before the daytime high was 55.  The normal is 78 for this time of year.

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