Leap year 2016: Why we have an extra day in February - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Leap year 2016: Why we have an extra day in February

Photo: WMC Action News 5 Photo: WMC Action News 5
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

We will have 29 days in February this year, which hasn't happened since 2012. This is because 2016 is a leap year, which is defined as a year with an extra day added to the calendar. 

So why do we need to add these extra days? We are taught that there are 365 days in a year, but earth actually takes 365.25 days to orbit around the sun. Therefore, we have to account for that quarter of time every 4 years by adding an extra leap day to the calendar.

On non-leap years, our calendar year is actually slightly faster than the solar year. Since it is only by .25, there is no way to easily account for it on a yearly basis, which is why we add it in over a four year period. If we did not make this adjustment, our calendar year would become less accurate over time. After 50 years, we would be about 13 days off from the solar year. This would have an impact on what we define as winter, spring, summer and fall seasons. 

Brittney Bryant
WMC Action News 5 Meteorologist
First Alert Storm Team
Facebook: Meteorologist Brittney Bryant
Twitter: @WX_BrittneyB

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