This has got you talking! On last night's weather forecast I said that we had one week left of Winter as Spring will begin on March 1st. Following that I received an influx of passionate emails and tweets from people telling me I am wrong and that Spring actually begins on March 21st.
So, who is right?! Well it all depends on whether you are in the meteorological or astrological camp and there is a big difference.
Astronomical seasons come from the position of the Earth's orbit in relation to the sun. Equinoxes and Solstices are the astronomical transition points between the seasons, there are two equinoxes Spring and Autumn and two Solstices Summer and Winter. (Equinox is when night & day are about the same length. Solstices are the longest night or day of the year.)
Astronomical seasons can vary every year because of leap years and the elliptical shape of the Earth’s orbit around the sun which causes the lengths of the seasons to vary between 89 and 93 days.
These variations in length of season make it difficult to compare seasons from one year to the next. That is why meteorological seasons were created.
The meteorological seasons are based on the temperature cycle and consist of breaking up the year up into 4 groups, each season consisting of 3 months. The seasons are defined as follows:
- SPRING: March, April May
- SUMMER: June, July, August
- AUTUMN: September, October, November
- WINTER: December, January, February
This system enables the climate to be accurately monitored and seasonal and monthly statistics to be compared which is vital to commerce and agriculture and has many other uses too.
This is why on the weather forecasts you may hear the presenter talking about the start of Spring on 1st March as this is the system The Met Office uses.
Whenever you believe Spring officially starts we are definitely seeing signs already with a spring-like day expected tomorrow and snowdrops and daffodils cropping up everywhere!