Time Change – Next Saturday Night

Bill's Blog

Saturday night we change the clocks. We “fall back” one hour. Technically, when it gets to 2 AM Sunday AM, we turn the clock back to 1 am. If I’m here at the station, I pause to watch the automatic clock in the weather office spin backwards. So, Sunday becomes 25 hours long. Many of us will get an extra hour of sleep.

Ringing the school bell near Lancaster PA.

The history of time is fascinating. When people lived out on the prairie, there wasn’t much need for time measurement. You got up with the sun and went to bed with the sun. Oil lamps and the light of a fire helped to give light to the short days of winter. The school bell summoned everyone to class and the church bell brought everyone to church.

For a long time, each unit of government – town or state, set it’s own time. When the railroads began to link towns, they might leave one town at 9:10 am and arrive at the next town at 9:05 am. There was a need for uniform time. Here’s a short history of Daylight Saving Time in the U.S.

On a national basis, the German Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire established a national Daylight Saving Time in 1916 and much of Europe followed suit. In 1918, the U.S. implemented Daylight Saving Time, but it proved to be so unpopular (people got up earlier then) that it was repealed in 1919.

President Roosevelt and Congress implemented Daylight Saving Time during WWII from 1942-45. Then from 1945-66, there was no Federal Law. It was noted in the early 1960s that riding a bus from Moundsville W VA to Steubenville OH a distance of 38 miles – meant going through 7 time changes! This created problems for everyone from drive-in movies to the broadcast industry.

The Uniform Time Act of 1966 created Daylight Saving Time to begin on the last Sunday of April and to end on the last Sunday of October. In 1972, Congress revised the law to provide that, if a state was in two or more time zones, the state could exempt the part of the state that was in one time zone while providing that the part of the state in a different time zone would observe Daylight Saving Time (Indiana, for instance). The Federal law was amended in 1986 to begin Daylight Saving Time on the first Sunday in April.

The move will take place almost everywhere in the U.S., with the exception of Hawaii and most of Arizona, which do not observe the change.

School bus in darkness

This coming week, we have the latest sunrises of the year. The official sunrise for Grand Rapids is 8:17 am on Friday and that means that many kids will be out there waiting for the school bus in total darkness or minimal twilight. Drive carefully and keep an eye out for the kids waiting for the bus.

The next time change happens on March 8, 2020 when we “Spring Forward” an hour and adjust our clocks ahead by one hour.

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