The Time Now > Pacific Standard Time

Pacific Standard Time (PST)

Time zone

Pacific Standard Time, PST

UTC offset

UTC -8:00
Important note:
Most cities located in Pacific Standard Time (PST) zone currently observe Daylight Saving Time (DST).
Therefore, most cities there are using Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).

Example of location: San Francisco
Use the search bar above to look up by city and not by time zone.

Overview of The Time Zone

The Pacific Standard time zone (PST) is eight hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). It is a zone that encompasses part of the United States, Canada, and Mexico with participants that follow a separate time during summer months known as Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). Today we’ll explore the concept of time zones like this one and how their existence affects the way we tell time.

We’ll also examine some other relevant topics in regards to this time zone and the locations within it. Let’s begin with a broad concept: the United States itself is divided into nine standard time zones and the world itself has a total of twenty four time zones, one for each hour of the day.

Countries and U.S. States Within The PST Time Zone

Let us begin with United States locations that observe PST in the winter and PDT in the summer:

  • California
  • Idaho - specifically the following counties: Benewah, Boner, Boundary, Clearwater, Kootenai, Latah, Lewis, Nez Perce, Shoshone, Northern Idaho.
  • Nevada
  • Oregon - Except the majority of Malheur County
  • Washington

The following are Canadian provinces and territories that use PST in winter and PDT in the summer:

  • British Columbia - excluding these eastern communities: Cranbrook, Golden, Invermere, which are in the MST/MDT zone.
  • Yukon

There is one Mexican state that falls into this zone and that’s Baja California Norte. This state observes both PST and PDT like the other locations on this list. Below are time zones in the same offset with different names:

  1. Alaska Daylight Time - AKDT

This zone is used in the state of Alaska during the summer time as a form of Daylight Saving Time. During this time the offset is 8 hours behind Universal Coordinated Time and therefore falls into the same offset as PST. The Aleutian Islands west of 169.30 West longitude are the one exception. They use HAST/HADT time zones. 

  1. PST - Pitcairn Standard Time

This time zone is also 8 hours behind UTC but is used exclusively by certain pacific islands which are listed below:

  • Pitcairn
  • Henderson
  • Ducie
  • Oeno
  1. U - Uniform Time Zone (Military)

This military time zone is used for aviation and refers to a stretch of sea between 127.5 degrees West and 112.5 degrees West. In this designation the offset is eight hour behind UTC. It is commonly referred to in military time with the letter “U” representing the time zone.


What Are Time Zones?

Plainly speaking, time zones are geographical regions where generally everyone uses the same standard time. Time zones were originally created as a means of creating a uniform standard time for legal, commercial, and social purposes.

Areas that are close in terms of commercial dependence or constant communication are usually located in the same time zone. For the most part, these zones are offset from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) by whole numbers of hours either positive or negative in regards to the starting point. The concept of a time offset refers to the amount of time added to, or subtracted from UTC which results in that location’s “civil time.”

Depending on the zone, people will observe this standard time all year long, or they will observe Daylight Saving Time, also known as Summer Time in other parts of the world.      

Some locations do have offsets of 30 or 45 minutes such as Nepal and Newfoundland, but for the most part they are all whole hours away from UTC. Before transportation became readily available, the time of day was derived from the apparent solar time. Sundials and the like were used to tell what time of day it was.

The Beginnings of Local Standard Time

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was created in 1675 at the time of the Royal Observatory’s construction, to help mariners find their longitude when they were out at sea. Geological longitude made telling time much more difficult when rail transport became prevalent. Every degree of longitude brought with it four minutes of variation.

As a result of these variations of time based on geological location, it became apparent that we needed a universal way to offset the time in each location to account for these changes in the time of day. The issue was far more prevalent when rail transport and telecommunications became more widespread.

On December 1st, 1847 standard time was officially adopted by British railways in the form of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) which they kept accurate using portable chronometers. It soon became known as Railway Time. Over 98% of Britain’s clocks were kept using GMT by 1855, but it didn’t become legally implemented until 1880.

In 1868 New Zealand (at that time a British colony) employed a standardized time to be used throughout the colony. This standard was based on a longitude east of Greenwich that was 11 hours and 30 minutes ahead of that meridian. It was known as New Zealand Mean Time.

Meanwhile the American railroads were still trying to find a means of normalizing their methods of telling time. In the 19th century, each railway had its own method of telling time which was incredibly confusing. Certain junctions that housed multiple railroads would have separate clocks for each railway.

Charles F. Dowd came forth with a system of one-hour time zones for the American railways, but he hadn't published anything on the subject, nor did he bring it to the railroad official’s attention until 1869. The following year he proposed four zones with north and south borders. This concept didn’t take hold though, instead the railroads used a version proposed by William F. Allen who was the editor of the Traveler’s Official Railway Guide.

Allen’s time zones had borders that ran through stations and major cities. It was officially put into use in 1883. There were five zones in total: Intercolonial, Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific. Confusion still ran rampant for a time until 1918 when Congress passed the Standard Time Act. 

This act implemented both standard time and Daylight Saving Time in the United States. It also gave authority to the Interstate Commerce Commission to define the borders of each time zone.

Creating Worldwide Time Zones

Technically speaking, the first person to propose a concept like worldwide time zones was an Italian mathematician by the name of Quirico Filopanti in his book Miranda! which was published in 1858. The concept didn’t escape the pages, nor was he credited for it until long after he died. Despite this, he did propose 24 hourly time zones which he titled “longitudinal days.”

In 1870 a Scottish man named Sir Sanford Fleming proposed his own system of worldwide time zones. He attended several conferences to promote the concept and is widely known as the inventor of the concept. It took until 1900 before most of the Earth was on some form of standard time. It wasn’t organized though, many countries made their references in regards to local astronomical observations.

It took until 1929 before many countries had a time zone that was a standard offset from GMT/UTC. Nepal was the last country to take on an offset and there’s was UTC+5:45 which wasn’t even a whole number hour. It was implemented in 1986.

The New Pacific Standard Time LA/LA Movement

There is a famous initiative of the Getty in conjunction with art institutions across Southern California called Pacific Standard Time. This movement is a collaboration of various locations around the southern region of California where each location’s institution presents exhibitions and programs that are aimed to celebrate the culture and history of the area.

From large to small museums, each chapter of this movement is focused on a major aspect of California's role in the history of both art and architecture. The next presentation of this movement will begin in September 2017 and continue until January 2018. This version of the ongoing event will showcase new contemporary artistic movements and practices, including artists from South and Central America, the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

The subjects will cover everything from objects in the ancient world, to modern art from Afro-Brazilian cultures. The focus is going to be on visual arts, but music, dance, literature, and a film will also be included along with unique cuisine. Preparation for these upcoming events has already begun in the form of grants to art institutions throughout Southern California.

The current demographic of Los Angeles, along with the rich history it has in Latin American culture make it a perfect place to host this new iteration of the event. The Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA event showcasing art from 1945-1980 was a massive success and generated over 280.5 million dollars in revenue to the region, so this upcoming event is going be a huge success.

Final Thoughts

Time zones have a tumultuous history that spans across multiple concepts and changes before they settled into the format we know today. While they may seem perfect, there’s always room for improvement. Thanks as always for reading, and be sure to check out our blog for more interesting and topical articles across a wide variety of subjects.