Vale to Pensacola

On March 12, 2009 · 7 Comments

We’re in that wonderful time of the year when people are still getting used to Daylight Saving Time (that’s Saving without an "s" and no I don’t know why that bothers me). On Twelve Mile Circle that also means I’m getting an odd little bump in traffic that only happens when the time changes either forward or back. It’s a traffic pattern I observe on many of my time zone pages, but is perhaps most prevalent and best described on Arizona Does Not Recognize Daylight Saving Time. Here’s the latest result:


Web Traffic at Time Change
Can you guess when the time changes take place?


I found another fascinating anomaly on the United States timezone map as I was contemplating the recent Spring Forward. Maybe you can too. Go ahead, take a look and let the patterns sink in.


q5j8967
Source: United States National Atlas

I think I’ve probably covered just about every timezone oddity on this map in previous posts but there’s at least one more. Ponder the situation I’m about to describe, but feel free to go back to the map and cheat if you want some assistance: A west coast state bordering the Pacific Ocean has a time zone that’s only one hour different than an east coast state on the Atlantic Ocean. What are the two states?


Vale, OR to Pensacola, FL

The answer is Oregon and Florida, which sounds improbable until one takes a look at the map. Now the answer is probably jumping out in flashing obviousness. Most of Oregon follows Pacific Time but a small chunk of its eastern flank falls with Mountain Time. Conversely, most of Florida follows Eastern Time but the western portion of the panhandle falls within Central Time.

Thus, a person picking up a phone in the town of Vale, in Malheur County, Oregon who wants to call someone in Pensacola, Florida, will only have to worry about a one hour time difference. These two points are nearly 2,500 miles apart and yet have this odd connection because of the double anomaly. If our fictional callers stand just a few miles further apart, the will have to worry about a three hour time difference.

The reason these two small sections of their respective states fall within different time zones has been discussed in previous entries but I’ll provide a brief summary here. Southeastern Oregon has an affinity with Idaho, closer in distance and culture to Boise than to Portland. Conversely, Pensacola has more in common with Mobile than Miami. It’s natural that they don’t follow the time of their home states.

On March 12, 2009 · 7 Comments

7 Responses to “Vale to Pensacola”

  1. Matthew says:

    That is awesome! Seriously, that made my day and now I want to travel to Vale and call someone in Pensacola to ask them what time it is. However, if we’re going for distance there’s another one-hour difference that’s even more extreme: Adak, AK to Naalehu, HI. About 2,500 miles as the crow flies compared to about 1,900 miles for Vale-Pensacola. Check it out…

  2. Matthew says:

    WAIT, I found a better one: Barrow, AK to Douglas, AZ (I think this one works only during the summer months as AZ doesn’t observe daylight savings time). Over 3,200 miles, and only 1 time zone change!

    • These are great examples. I like the second one in particular which has great distance both longitudinal and latitudinal, perhaps the best in the United States at least during periods when Standard Time is observed. Longitude is the easy one (e.g., South Africa and Finland). Finding large latitude differences is much more difficult. Your second example seems to have both. There’s an example outside of the US that’s even harder to beat for its sheer audacity: China observes a single time zone nationwide even though it stretches more than three thousand miles and has international neighbors along its northern border falling into SIX different time zones.

      Time zones are fun!

  3. Steve_CTMQ says:

    Amazing fact: My Aunt-in-law (if such things exist) lives in Milton, FL – Just NE of Pensacola and is CT. My brother-in-law lives in Ontario, OR, just east of Vale on the ID border.

    Now your “fictional” characters have names, albeit Vietnamese ones.

    (That said, I was not aware of this quirk.)

    Also, I’ll be the jerk to say it… Matthew, thanks for the cool info, but as Twelve Mile Circle said in the post, it’s Daylight Saving Time. (No ‘s’.)

    • The oddity of that coincidence confounds me. I mean, seriously, how big can the population of people in a small corner of eastern Oregon with relatives in a tiny chunk of western Florida truly be? Maybe you can share that fun fact at your next Thanksgiving dinner when all the relatives are together. You’ll likely get the same blank stare I get when I bring up strange facts like this to my family-in-law.

  4. steven burton says:

    Yeah and how bout when the central timezone ticks back an hour then someone in that portion of FL can talk to that person in OR and ask them what time it is as if they were in the same room.

    • Good point. There will be a single hour each year when Daylight Saving Time “falls back” to standard time in the Central Time Zone but hasn’t yet done so in the Mountain Time Zone. During that golden hour it would be possible for someone in western Florida to call someone in eastern Oregon and they would both be following a common time.

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