13 (No, 14!) of the United States are Split by Time Zones

On April 24, 2009 · 10 Comments

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.


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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:

  1. Alaska: Hawaii-Aleutian Time (Aleutian Islands west of 169° 30’ west) and Alaskan Time
  2. Florida: Central Time (western panhandle) and Eastern Time
  3. Idaho: Pacific Time (northern panhandle) and Mountain Time
  4. Indiana: Central Time and Eastern Time
  5. Kansas: Mountain Time (a small western notch) and Central Time
  6. Kentucky: Central Time and Eastern Time
  7. Michigan: Central Time (a small portion of the Upper Peninsula bordering Wisconsin) and Eastern Time
  8. Nebraska: Mountain Time and Central Time
  9. Nevada: Pacific Time and Mountain Time (just barely – see my West Wendover page)
  10. North Dakota: Mountain Time and Central Time
  11. South Dakota: Mountain Time and Central Time
  12. Oregon: Pacific Time and Mountain Time (an eastern bite)
  13. Tennessee: Central Time and Eastern Time
  14. 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.

On April 24, 2009 · 10 Comments

10 Responses to “13 (No, 14!) of the United States are Split by Time Zones”

  1. Steve_CTMQ says:

    Don’t you love being the quiz answer and no one says thanks?

    My blog held the answer to a NYT crossword a few weeks ago and I got over 1000 hits in a day (btw, I’ve NEVER used google to help me with xwords!).

    I was givign the correct answer, and even put it at the top of the page, but not one of those cheaters thanked me.

    tom, we provide a thankless service to billions. So I’ll thank you.

    That’s right, I said BILLIONS

  2. Oskar Altpapier says:

    You probably know this, but Arizona has its own “Arizona Time”, which is the same as Mountain in the winter and the same as Pacific in summer.

    Since some part of Arizona are in Mountain time proper, that state too is split between time zones.

    So there’s 15.

    • Time in Arizona is both fascinating and extremely complicated. I’ve featured it from a couple of different perspectives that I think you might find interesting here and here. Remember though that Time Zones in the United States are determined by the Federal government and that states can then determine whether to recognize Daylight Saving Time or not within that Federal framework. In the case of Arizona, the state has decided to NOT recognize DST. The Navajo Nation, which crosses into Arizona, DOES recognize DST (and the Hopi Nation enclaves within the Navajo Nation do NOT). However all of Arizona still falls within the boundaries of the Mountain Time Zone as defined by the Federal government so technically it is not split, even though there are time differences during certain periods of the year when DST is in effect.

      Whew, see what I mean by complicated!

  3. mary says:

    thank you

  4. Irina says:

    The site says: “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.”
    Your reference is incorrect. Title 49 of the U.S.C. is named “Transportation”. It does not have subtitle A. There is no time zone listing anywhere in the Title 49.

    • Ed says:

      Irina,

      I’m not sure why you don’t think there is no subtitle A. There is absolutely a Subtitle A to Title 49 and in Section 71 of that subtitle it outlines the Time Zone boundaries of all the states. His reference is accurate. Your information is incorrect. It would be wise to validate your info before posting that way you don’t misinform people who may be inclined to accept your reply at face value. Anyway, thanks to Twelve Mile Circle for the in depth info.

      • Amanda says:

        I know I’m pretty late to the party here, but Irina is correct. The Code of Federal Regulations is NOT the United States Code. They are two different documents, on two different websites, but (unfortunately, and unsurprisingly) with confusingly similar Title names and numbers. Title 49 in both documents is called “Transportation.”

        (The link in the article goes to the correct location, but calls it the USC, not the CFR.)

        Perhaps you could take your own advice (and maybe also not be so rude).

  5. Robert Dennis says:

    Thanks for the article. I believe Hawaii is split by a time zone too, the far western islands, which are uninhabited, should be in a different time zone, but I am not positive about that. Let’s see, Winterhaven, California, across the river from Yuma, Arizona, unofficially observes Mountain Time to align with Yuma. The “boundary” of that area is not well established, but it is believed to be the entire Fort Yuma Indian Reservation that observes Mountain Time. Nara Visa, New Mexico unofficially observes Central Time. Hyder, Alaska, on the Canadian border, unofficially observes Pacific Time. Now, for an opinion of mine. I feel strongly that Van horn, Texas, which is on Central time, but just 2 miles from the time zone boundary, should strongly consider going on Mountain Time.

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