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For meteorologists, Spring starts early

It was a beautiful Spring-like day on Wednesday, ushering in Spring Fever!
It was a beautiful Spring-like day on Wednesday, ushering in Spring Fever!(WHSV)
Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 9:07 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 25, 2021 at 9:09 AM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - After the unseasonably warm temperatures we experienced across the area yesterday, I think I can accurately diagnose people as having come down with Spring Fever. And, it’s true, Spring is coming! And here’s the good news...in my field, Spring comes early!

Beautiful images captured a Spring-like day on Wednesday
Beautiful images captured a Spring-like day on Wednesday(WHSV)

Believe it or not, there are actually two different start dates for Spring. They are Astronomical Spring and Meteorological Spring, and it just so happens that we stubborn weather people like to usher Spring in a whole lot sooner.

So let’s break down the difference.

Astronomical Spring

The seasons you see on your calendar are determined by the Earth’s position relative to the sun (hence, the astronomy part). Summer and winter begin on the solstices, when the Earth’s tilt is at a maximum in either direction relative to the sun, while Spring and Fall begin on the equinox days, when the night and day are roughly 12 hours each. This year, Spring officially begins on March 20th, the Spring equinox.

Here’s the problem with meteorologists using these dates: Leap Years. Because the Earth completes one revolution of the sun in 365.24-ish days, these solstice and equinox days can fluctuate over the years. It may not seem like a big deal, but keeping statistics on seasonal weather becomes a nightmare. A tornado outbreak that occurs on March 20th one year may be considered *winter*, when the next it could be *spring*. Yikes!

So, here’s the better alternative...

Meteorological Spring

Instead, meteorologists use a much simpler breakdown, and they are all based on monthly averages for temperature, broken into 4 groups.

WINTER: December, January, February (these are the 3 coldest months of the year, on average)

SPRING: March, April, May

SUMMER: June, July, August (these are the 3 hottest months of the year, on average)

FALL: September, October, November

So I hope you will join me in celebrating, as Spring does, indeed, start early!

Meteorological Spring is set to begin on Monday, March 1st.

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