Should DC residents worry about sunburn in March? Check the UV index

While Mother Nature spared the D.C. region winter weather during the traditionally coldest period of the year, residents shouldn’t let their guard down for a hidden danger on warm and even cold spring days ahead — the sun.

At times, D.C. area residents who are going to be outside for an extended time on a sunny, warm and humid early October day will apply sunblock. Similarly, now is the time to start watching the UV forecast to decide whether to lather up.

The sun angle in early March is the same as it is in early October. In a nutshell, on a sunny day, the UV index will be moderate to high in the spring and the UV index will be slightly lower on a cloudy day.

The UV Index for Wednesday afternoon. (Courtesy Environmental Protection Agency)

Take Wednesday, the UV Index for midday is five for D.C. Those who will be outside late in the morning through the mid-afternoon for an extended time could get a sunburn if sunblock isn’t applied. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses also help protect the face from getting red.

In just a month’s time, the sun angle during the midday will be the same as it is just before Labor Day.

Each day of March adds two and a half minutes of daylight, coming to a total of more than an hour accumulated this month.

The analemma compares the midday sun angle to the calendar day and month in the spring and summer seasons. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons).

It’s important to remember no matter how cold temperatures get on a sunny March day, the UV index will not be impacted, and a sunburn can sneak up someone isn’t wearing sunscreen. Just like during the summer, the peak danger hours for a sunburn are 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Stay tuned to WTOP on the 8’s for the latest cloud forecast. 

Chad Merrill

Chad Merrill is a meteorologist and digital weather content producer for WTOP. Prior to joining WTOP, Chad was a meteorologist in the private industry and television. He loves to share his passion with listeners and readers and is eager to hear from anyone who has any weather questions!

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