I keep getting hits on my website looking for the list of "13 states split by time zones." There must be some kind of trivia quiz, scavenger hunt or homeschooling assignment in progress because it’s all too oddly coincidental to contemplate otherwise.
I am going to provide an answer as a public service. Regular readers of Twelve Mile Circle should feel free to check back in a couple of days. This will all be old-hat for you. I dedicate today’s post to all the random students and lurkers seeking easy answers through search engines.
Well, except the source of the question is wrong. The answer isn’t 13. I can see how it happened. There’s a reputable source providing the incorrect information and it currently comes up on the first page of a Google search. That doesn’t make it accurate, though. You will need to explain to your quiz master, hunt organizer and/or school teacher that there are actually 14 states in the United States split by time zones. Try to be delicate. Authority figures don’t like to be shown up.
Source: United States National Atlas
Let’s quickly review the correct information by consulting the authoritative primary source. The Federal government determines time zone boundaries in the United States. Conveniently, it provides a comprehensive listing of time zones and boundaries in Title 49 of the United States Code, Subtitle A, Part 71. States can decide whether to recognize Daylight Saving Time or not, but they cannot change the boundaries. This section of the United States Code is definitive so it provides the answer readily.
Here are the 14 (fourteen!) states within the United States separated by a time zone boundary:
- Alaska: Hawaii-Aleutian Time (Aleutian Islands west of 169° 30’ west) and Alaskan Time
- Florida: Central Time (western panhandle) and Eastern Time
- Idaho: Pacific Time (northern panhandle) and Mountain Time
- Indiana: Central Time and Eastern Time
- Kansas: Mountain Time (a small western notch) and Central Time
- Kentucky: Central Time and Eastern Time
- Michigan: Central Time (a small portion of the Upper Peninsula bordering Wisconsin) and Eastern Time
- Nebraska: Mountain Time and Central Time
- Nevada: Pacific Time and Mountain Time (just barely – see my West Wendover page)
- North Dakota: Mountain Time and Central Time
- South Dakota: Mountain Time and Central Time
- Oregon: Pacific Time and Mountain Time (an eastern bite)
- Tennessee: Central Time and Eastern Time
- Texas: Mountain Time (far western portion including El Paso) and Central Time
In some instances there are towns that recognize time zones unofficially. Phenix City, Alabama is a suburb of Columbus, Georgia so it follows Eastern Time informally to align with its larger neighbor. Kenton, Oklahoma (on the far western edge of the panhandle) recognizes Mountain Time informally to align with its New Mexico neighbors three miles away and its Colorado neighbors six miles away. However these are not legal designations and therefore neither Alabama nor Oklahoma can be described as being split by a time zone in a proper sense.
Now back to our regular programming.