High Points: Changing Times

Paul E. Anna
High Points
This weekend is that time we “spring forward.” But how come and why? (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

People get ready, there’s a change a-comin’. And it affects us all.

This Sunday at 2 a.m., by official decree of the U.S. government, you will be asked to set your clocks one hour ahead to 3 a.m. for the beginning of Daylight Savings Time. The expression “spring forward” is used to help you understand which way to move your clocks. Oh, and as you spring forward you will lose one hour of sleep assuming you keep to your same schedule. Clockwise that is. Bummer.

Daylight Savings is a godsend for some and a pain in the sleep for others. If you are a morning person — you know, the kind that rises with the call of the rooster at the first light of dawn — it can be distracting to hear that rooster crow and turn over only to discover it’s an hour later than you thought. The rooster isn’t the problem; he is still crowing based on the circadian rhythm of the natural rotation of the Earth. Rather, it is the man-altered time that has moved. On Sunday, that would be the 13th of March, your sunrise here in Aspen will be at 7:21 a.m. Just the day before, your rooster, assuming you have one, alerted you at 6:23 a.m. No wonder your mind was a little foggy. The good news is you can sleep in a bit if you have no other pressing issues, like maybe you’re a ski instructor who needs to be slopeside by 8. If that is the case, you best change your clocks before you go to bed on Saturday night or you may be late. An hour late.

Ah, but there is another end of the spectrum. The sun will stay lit until 7:12 p.m. on Sunday and there will be a minute more of light each day thereafter until the Fourth of July when the Earth tilts again and the sun starts to set a minute or so earlier each evening. For outdoor lovers this is the time to get out and about for late-afternoon rides, runs, casts and other pleasures. There are those who relish having the chance to play longer each day in the time that is enhanced by Daylight Savings.

Either way, the effects of the edict are vast. Over 70 countries use the system that began in the early 1900s when Germany and Austria turned their clocks ahead on April 30, 1916, to help minimize the use of artificial light to save fuel in the first World War. We started to use it two years later and designated March as our clock-changing month, but it was unpopular and dropped after the end of the war. There have been fits and starts since but for the time being, no pun intended, Daylight Savings Time now begins at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday of March and lasts until 2 a.m. the first Sunday in November in 48 of the 50 states. Neither Hawaii nor Arizona (with the exception of the Navajo Nation in the northeastern tip of the state) observe Daylight Savings.

By the way, most of Europe will turn their clocks forward on March 27, two weeks after we do. There is no Daylight Savings Time in Russia (which, incredibly has 11 time zones) but Ukraine does change on the 27th, like Europe.

Let’s hope that on that Sunday morning they awake in peace.