The Hottest and Coldest Time of the Day – When They Occur and Why

There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding the hottest and coldest time of the day. High and low temperatures inform you as to how warm or cold the environment is going to be and they can be felt at certain times of the day.

Although it would seem obvious for the hottest time of the day to be earlier on due to the times when the sun is more visible and the beams can be felt more directly, this isn’t the case.

thermometer set outdoor

When you wake in the morning, the cold can often be felt almost immediately and this leads many people to believe that the coldest time of the day occurs early on, but again this isn’t the case.

Many would be surprised to learn that the hottest and coldest times actually occur later on in the day with a minimal gap between the occurrence of both.

We have conducted our research and below we have identified when the hottest and coldest times of the day occur and the reasons as to why this is the case. 

The Hottest

Contrary to common belief, the hottest time of the day doesn’t occur at noon. Many believe this to be the case as the sun is at its peak elevation at this point and so the earth is getting more solar radiation at this time.

However, the hottest time of the day actually tends to be around 3 pm to 4 pm. At noon, the heat begins to build up because the sun is at its highest and as it gets lower towards the afternoon, more heat can be felt. At around 3 pm, there is a greater amount of heat contained in the surface than the amount of heat that is leaving the surface. 

It tends to be the belief that noon is the hottest time of the day because this is when we have the most direct sunlight. However, the transfer of heat takes time hence why you will witness warmer temperatures a bit later in the afternoon. The temperature tends to change the most during the earliest parts of the day as this is when the greatest jump in the temperature can be witnessed. 

Solar radiation refers to the process in which the sun projects heat from its rays down onto the earth. The earth will then radiate this heat back out, however, it isn’t able to do this at the pace at which the heat is radiated onto the earth, and as a result, the temperature begins to rise, becoming warmer throughout the day.

The term used to describe the process surrounding the delay in the temperature is thermal response and this essentially refers to the concept regarding the amount of radiation that the earth receives. 

The Coldest

The coldest time of the day occurs shortly after sunrise. Many tend to expect the coldest time of the day to occur early in the morning, however, this isn’t the case.

Specifically, you should expect to experience the coldest time of the day around 1 to 2 hours after the hottest time of the day. This is because the radiation of the sun remains too weak to keep the surface warm and so there is more heat radiating away from the surface. 

Cold temperatures can also be felt first thing in the morning, shortly after sunrise.

Again, there are misconceptions surrounding this because some would imply that this should be the warmest time as the sun is at its highest point but as we have mentioned previously, it has not yet reached its hottest temperature. It is actually the case that the sun is continuing to lose its temperature as it is beginning to rise. 

Now if you're questioning why the coldest time of the day occurs in quick succession of the hottest time of the day, there is a prominent reason. Simply put, this is because although the earth is still radiating heat into the atmosphere at a pretty quick pace, solar radiation decreases alongside this. 

There are several factors that can determine when the hottest and coldest time of the day occurs.

Although a general expectation should be to witness the hottest time of the day around 3 pm to 4 pm and the coldest time of the day shortly after, your location and weather patterns can affect this and for these reasons, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact time of the day when the temperature is going to reach its coldest point.

Conclusion

Although it can be easy to assume that the hottest time of the day occurs when the sun is projecting the most beams onto the earth it is clear that this is not the case.

As with most things that center around the concept of heat, it isn’t a process that unfolds quickly and it takes time for the earth to reach its warmest temperature. The terms thermal response and solar radiation make it easier to understand the temperature patterns and why these temperatures occur when they do.

Although many would suggest that late-night, around midnight is the coldest time of the day, this is not the case. Even though the sun rises early in the morning the temperatures are actually colder at this point as the earth is yet to warm up.

Surprisingly the coldest time of the day occurs later than many would expect and as we have mentioned, it happens shortly after the hottest time of the day. Specific factors make it hard to identify a particular time of the day when it is the coldest, however, it is likely to be around one to two hours after the hottest time of the day. 

As identified, there are explanations behind the delays of temperatures and it is also important to note that differences can be witnessed depending on your location and the weather patterns that you experience, particularly the case when attempting to identify the coldest time of the year. 

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