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Clayton, Henry counties 'spring forward' this weekend

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

If an episode of the television show "24" was set on the second Sunday of March, the show would have to be renamed "23."

That's because there is a rare occurrence, which only happens on that day of the year. Sunday is only going to be 23 hours long, instead of the usual 24 hours. It's countered by a 25-hour day in November.

What causes these abnormal days?

Daylight Saving Time (DST), but residents shouldn't look at it as a time change which temporarily messes up their schedules.

"Just think of it as a few more hours of sunlight in your day," said Chris Kielich, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Energy. "You'll have more natural light at night while you enjoy the outdoors. It does take a few days to adjust to the time change, but that's why it's always done on the weekend."

DST begins at 2 a.m., on Sunday, when clocks across the U.S. jump forward one hour. This means one hour is going to be lost this weekend.

The Daylight Saving Time concept was devised as a way to conserve energy, according to nationalatlas.gov. During the eight months of DST, the sun sets an hour later than it does during the rest of the year. Energy usage is reduced because there is more light during the evening hours, and less artificial light is needed as a result.

DST wasn't permanently implemented until 1966, but it's history is rooted in Benjamin Franklin's experiments and two world wars.

Franklin wrote "An Economical Project" while staying in Paris, France, in 1784. In his piece, Franklin noted sunrise started earlier and earlier as the days wore on into June. He suggested Parisians adjust their day, during the summer, to maximize their use of natural light. Some of his suggestions, though, included rationing candle wax, and having cannons fired and church bells rung whenever the sun came up.

In 1918, the U.S. Congress placed the nation on DST for seven months , and again in 1919, so energy and daylight could be conserved for use on the front lines in World War I. People didn't like the change too much, though, because it they struggled to adjust to the changes. DST was done away with in 1920 as a result.

It came back, though, for a second engagement in the U.S. from 1942 until 1945, while the nation was embroiled in World War II. Once again, the purpose was to conserve energy during the war effort.

After the war ended, recognition of the time change was left up to each state, and local community. Some parts of the U.S. chose to keep it going, while other areas got rid of it. Transportation and broadcasting schedules could not be standardized as a result, and the inconsistencies left many people confused.

Enter the Uniform Time Act of 1966.

Nationalatlas.gov estimates roughly 100 million Americans were observing DST by the time 1966 rolled around, thanks to local laws.

Members of Congress decided it was time they got into the middle of all the confusion caused by the various local and state laws. The representatives and senators felt it was time to lay down the law - so to speak.

The Uniform Time act of 1966 established a uniform guideline for when DST would begin and end. The law set the last Sunday of April as the first day of DST. The last Sunday of October was set as the day when DST ended.

U.S. states are not required to comply with the law, but they must follow the prescribed start and end dates if DST is used. Only Hawaii and Arizona do not observe DST.

In 1986, the law was amended so DST would start on the first Sunday of April, while continuing to end at the same time.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 changed the length of DST once more. This time, the second Sunday of March was designated as the official start of DST, and the end date was pushed back one week to the first Sunday of November.

"Just remember the sayings, 'spring forward' and 'fall back,'" Kielich said.