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WeatherTalk: Meteorological Winter vs Astronomical Winter

The change in weather that we loosely group into seasons does not start on the same day in different places nor does it start on the same day in different years.

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"Meteorological Winter" is an unfortunate term often used by broadcast meteorologists to differentiate the first day of December from the Winter Solstice, which occurs on or around Dec. 21 and is marked in most calendars as "The First Day of Winter." However, the astronomical seasons have to do with the position of the Sun and other stars in the sky, not the weather. Many people, including journalists, often use this along with the start date of the other astronomical seasons to make comments about the weather, as in, "we've already had two snowstorms and winter doesn't officially begin until next week."

The thing is, using the first of December as the start of "meteorological winter" season is not really an improvement. The change in weather that we loosely group into seasons does not start on the same day in different places nor does it start on the same day in different years. A better term would be "Climatological Winter," because climate refers to a set of general expectations.

Related Topics: WEATHERWEATHERTALK
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