Seasons are distinct divisions of the meteorological year based on how the weather, climate, ecology, and daylight hours change in the United States. They can also be found in astronomical patterns, such as solstices and equinoxes.Top of Form
When do Certain Seasons Start?
|Season||Start date||End date|
|Winter||December 1||Feb 28 (29 in a leap year)|
|Spring||March 1||May 31|
|Summer||June 1||Aug 31|
|Fall||Sep 1||Nov 30|
The above chart details the start of each season from a meteorological sense! Of course, different astronomical movements claim the titles of “first day of spring or summer or winter, etc.” but for the case of explaining the scientific aspects of the seasons, we will operate under the above dates!
For most of this article, we’ll focus on the northern hemisphere when discussing timeframes, months, and seasons since the United States is in the northern hemisphere.
Also, the United States is a temperate region. The U.S. experiences moderate rainfall, occasional mild drought, warm summers, and cooler winters. Because the United States is such a large landmass, this will vary between states. However, in a meteorological sense, the country’s whole is classed as temperate.
What are the Four Seasons?
We experience four distinct seasons. These are winter, spring, summer, and fall.
In the United States, winter tends to see people wrapped in thick coats, scarves, hats, and gloves. The air brings a chill, and many regions experience cold snaps where snow and ice are expected.
Animals can change the way they live to adapt to their harsher environments. Some may hibernate, store food, or even change the color of their fur to survive. On the other hand, humans will heat their homes, light the fire, and enjoy some winter holiday celebrations.
The coldest months in the Northern Hemisphere (where the United States is situated) tend to be December and January. Temperatures can dip below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s the temperature when water starts to freeze!), and frost can occur.
As you get closer to the equator, temperatures rise, and the climate becomes less varied. Seasons are more subtle, and people living on the equator may not notice a change between meteorological winter, spring, summer, and fall.
In spring, the bare tree branches come to life again with greenery. Seeds take root, vegetation and plants begin to grow, and spring flowers emerge. Those hibernating animals will awaken and rely on some of the food they stored before hibernation to increase their body weight quickly.
Humans can transition from their thicker winter coats to something a little light. However, rainfall can still be pronounced throughout spring, and while milder, spring days can still carry quite the chill.
You will mainly see a lot of rain in April, as “April showers tend to bring May flowers!” Therefore, taking an umbrella with you on outings is a must, especially if you live in a region where the weather can be unpredictable.
Summer is the warmest season of the year. However, with our increased understanding of global warming and climate change, scientists notice that our summers are getting even hotter! Temperatures can hit record highs, and it’s not unusual to experience days, if not weeks, of temperatures over 86 degrees Fahrenheit!
If temperatures become too high, they can cause animal, plant, and human issues. In addition, droughts can cause water shortages, and the old and vulnerable can dehydrate. Forest fires have also been recorded in states like California as the heat becomes unbearable and the land becomes so dry that the threat of brush fires increases.
With the warmest weather and the most hours of daylight comes the most abundant plant, vegetation, and flower growth. Gardens look beautiful and colorful, and scents can fill the air. Plants can grow incredibly quickly, and homegrown vegetables ripen ready to be picked.
As temperatures cool once more, the trees can change color, leaves start to change colors and fall, and animals begin storing food for the winter. Some animals, such as birds, migrate to warmer climates so they don’t have to adapt to chiller climates.
More crops tend to ripen, ready to be harvested, while daylight hours decrease slowly. Humans tend to celebrate the harvest with festivals traditionally. Americans, in particular, visit farms, especially pumpkin farms or apple orchards, during October for Halloween, and Thanksgiving in November is the culmination of the fall month harvest!
What Causes The Seasons?
If you’ve ever wondered, “why do we get to summer and winter?” we need to look at the astronomical seasons to discover what causes them.
The seasonal cycle is dictated by the Earth’s position concerning the sun. Our planet rotates around an axis. We can’t see this axis, but we know it’s there!
The northern or southern hemispheres will be closer to the sun, depending on the time of the year. As a result, the most relative hemisphere to the sun will experience summer, while the hemisphere the farthest away from the sun will experience winter. This picture can help you understand the seasons a little easier.
While the meteorological definition of the seasons is based solely on dates, the astronomical definition looks at the position of the Earth and its distance from the sun.
Winter and summer seasons have the shortest and longest days of the year. The shortest day of the year occurs in the winter in the United States because this is when the northern hemisphere is furthest from the sun. Winter solstice appears on December 21 or 22 and is classed as the first day of astronomical winter.
The longest day of the year occurs in the summer when daylight hours are longer because the northern hemisphere is closest to the sun. The summer solstice occurs around June 20 or 21 and is classed as the first day of astronomical summer.
It would make sense that when the northern hemisphere experiences its winter solstice, the southern hemisphere experiences its summer solstice and vice versa.
What is an Equinox?
While the solstices mark the shortest and longest days in the United States, equinoxes occur when the axis that the Earth rotates around becomes almost parallel to the Sun. As a result, the day and night of the equinox are practically equal.
The vernal or spring equinox occurs in the United States around March 20. The autumnal equinox occurs around September 22. Therefore, when the northern hemisphere is experiencing its autumnal equinox, the southern hemisphere is experiencing its vernal equinox and vice versa.
What is the Difference Between Spring and Summer?
The seasons of spring and summer differ for several reasons. These are mainly due to the position of the Earth with the Sun at these points of the year.
From March until the end of May, the Earth is mid-way between the extremes of winter and summer. As a result, it is often seen as a transitional season, where the weather becomes milder, but it isn’t as warm, and there aren’t as many daylight hours as in the summer.
In summer, the Earth is at the closest point in its orbit around the Sun. So in terms of weather, climate, ecology, and temperature make the season more extreme.
For humans, our moods can also shift between spring and summer. For example, the dawn of more daylight hours can boost our sense of positive well-being. It is why it’s so important to get outdoors when the weather is warm and balmy.
With the appropriate sun safety measure such as sun cream, a hat, and sunglasses, your kids can enjoy days out over summer break at the park or on the beach!
Facts About The Seasons
- Plants and trees lose their leaves in response to the shortening days and cooler temperatures of fall.
- The winter is often a difficult season for animals, and food is scarce. As a result, many animals hibernate or migrate during these colder months.
- Some trees remain green in all four seasons. These trees are called evergreen trees.
- In tropical or subtropical places, there are two seasons: rainy (monsoon) and dry. That’s why the rain changes more than the temperature.
Main Vocabulary when Talking about The Seasons
- Axis. An axis is a pole that fits inside a wheel. Imagine an imaginary pole inside the earth.
- Climate. The weather conditions for a given location over some time.
- The Equator. An imaginary line around the Earth, another planet, or a star that runs east-west at 0 degrees latitude.
- Equinox. The time when the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the geometric center of the Sun.
- Globe. The Earth.
- Pole. The extreme north or south point of the Earth’s axis.
- Rotate. To turn around a center point or axis.
- Tilt. Slide back and forth.