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What Fall Equinox Means for Oregon Coast, Portland on Monday

Published 09/19/2019 at 9:33 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

What Fall Equinox Means for Oregon Coast, Portland on Monday

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(Oregon Coast) – In comes fall and out goes summer this Monday, and for most of Oregon and the Oregon coast it means a brief shift in better weather – and an interesting connection to the southern hemisphere.

The autumnal equinox happens Monday, September 23, marking the end of summer and the official beginning of autumn, and a time when days begin getting shorter and the nights longer. Meanwhile, some interesting minus tides are around the corner for the beaches.

According to astronomy expert Jim Todd from Portland’s OMSI, the rays of the sun are directly over the equator, causing the northern and southern hemispheres to have exactly the same amount of daylight vs. nighttime hours. As of 12:50 a.m. on Monday the equinox takes place, after which the sun’s light begins moving southward.

“This is the reason it's called an ‘equinox,’ Latin word meaning ‘equal,’ “Todd said.

However, this can shift a bit depending where you are in the hemisphere. Portland – and the northern Oregon coast – actually see an equal 12 hours of day and night on September 25. Todd said sunrise is at 7:01 a.m. and sunset comes at 7:02 p.m. Then a whole set of new set of physics and astronomy kicks in.

“At the 45th latitude North, the time it takes for the sun to fully rise and set, which is several minutes, is added to the day and subtracted from the night, and therefore the equinox day lasts a little longer than 12 hours,” Todd said. “Another reason why the day is longer than 12 hours on an equinox is that the Earth's atmosphere refracts sunlight.”

It’s interesting to see the differences in equal day vs. night hours the farther south you go on the Oregon coast. At Yachats, for instance, the most balanced day / night hours occur on September 26 and 27, where sunrise happens at 7:09 a.m. and sunset at 7:07 p.m.

Todd said the autumnal equinox coincides with many cultural events, religious observances, and customs around the world. The Chinese celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, which is related to harvest festivals also celebrated in Vietnam, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

In the Pacific Northwest, modern Harvest Moon festivals mean a variety of concerts, farmers markets, beer- and wine-tasting, and craft fairs. The wondrous changing fall colors of the trees starts kicking right about now and goes well into October this year.

“This is a perfect opportunity to align your sundial as the Sun rises due east and sets due west on the equinox,” Todd said.

Monday holds decent weather for the Oregon coast and the inland valley areas, predicted by the National Weather Service (NWS) to be at least partly sunny and around 62. Sadly, the coast’s second summer (the warmest time of the year is September and early October) seems to be missing this time around, and more occasionally rainy weather is predicted for the week. It will be in the lower 60s and partly to mostly sunny on and off.

Some small minus tides start popping up in the early mornings around the 25th, but around the cusp of the month there comes a few minus-one-foot to minus seven-inch tidesin the mornings and evenings, going from September 29 to October 1. Some of the lowest tides happen between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. - depending on the day and where you are – as well as in the early mornings around 7 a.m. Check the Oregon Coast Weather page for links to specific tide tables. Oregon Coast Hotels for this event - Where to eat - Map - Virtual Tour






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