Time Zones

Words on Weather & Climate — April 8, 2010

April 8, 2010 // 0 Comments

Time zones by CRAIG JAMES I think most of us understand the basic times zones across the county. In the lower 48 states there are the Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific time zones. However, before the advent of railroads, each city in the country had its own local time that was set to solar noon (when the sun is directly overhead). Since the sun is directly overhead about one minute later for each 12 miles you travel to the west, traveling on horseback didn’t usually cause much of a problem. Your watch was only a few minutes off after a day’s travel. However, when railroads began moving people long distances in a short period of time, railroad time schedules became very confusing. In the 1860s, the railroads were dealing with over 300 local time zones. In 1884, the concept of standard time zones, each spanning approximately every 15 degrees longitude, was implemented worldwide. Where time zone lines ran through cities, the lines were nudged either west or east so the entire city was on the same time zone. But some states ended up in two time zones. The state of Indiana has 92 counties; 80 are now in the Eastern Time Zone and 12 are in the Central Time Zone. When Daylight Saving Time (DST) was implemented during World War I, all counties in each state were required to use it year round. This experiment in DST lasted just seven months, but was reinstated during World War II. After the war, between 1945 and 1966, each county, led by the wisdom of its own politicians, decided whether to stay on DST or not. In Indiana, 15 counties adopted DST and 77 did not. If that had happened in our area, it would be like Grandville being one hour ahead of Jenison, but for only part of the year. Finally in 2006, Indiana adopted DST in all counties. Arizona does not go on DST except on a few Indian reservations. It took me a while when I moved to Grand Rapids to get used to the fact that the National Weather Service does not adopt DST. When they post the daily climate summary in the winter, it is for the 24-hour period from midnight to midnight, […]