BLOG: Meteorological vs astronomical seasons... what's the diffe - | WBTV Charlotte

BLOG: Meteorological vs astronomical seasons... what's the difference?

(Source: WBTV/File) (Source: WBTV/File)
(WBTV) -

With the beginning of March right around the corner, you'll likely hear meteorologists everywhere chiming about how "Meteorological Winter" has come to an end and March 1 signifies the beginning of "Meteorological Spring".

But...the Spring Equinox is not until March 20 this year, which many would claim to be the "official" start of the season (although there are no season police to determine what is actually official!)

But official or not- why do meteorologists insist on deviating from the astronomical solstices and equinoxes we are all used to in determining our seasons?

Astronomical seasons are based off on the earth's position around the sun, as most of us know. When the Earth is receiving direct sunlight over the equator.. we've got an Equinox, either Spring or Fall. The solstices mark the times when the sun’s annual path is farthest, north or south, from the equator.

In the Northern Hemisphere, these equinoxes and solstices can occur anywhere from the 19th-23rd of the month, either March, June, September, or December.

The reason meteorologists and climatologists insist on breaking the calendar up into full month chunks for seasons is purely based on ease of calculating seasonal weather statistics and comparing those from year to year. Since Astronomical seasons vary slightly in length and start date every year, calculating "seasonal" averages based on them can be a challenge.

However, if you break a season down into 3 months, those months never change and comparing seasonal data from one year to the next becomes much easier. 

So, the meteorological seasons are based off on our calendar, of course, and the average annual temperature cycles. The coldest part of the year, Winter, is Dec, Jan, Feb. The hottest part of the year, Summer, is June, July, Aug. And that leaves Spring and Fall as the transition seasons (and months) in between.

So while we haven't had much of true winter weather this year anyway, for those itching for Spring and Summer's return, Wednesday, March 1 will be just one step closer to that, when meteorologists everywhere will be celebrating Spring!

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