By WeatherBug Chief Meteorologist, Mark Hoekzema
UPDATED February 26, 2015
Most people consider the first day of spring to be the Spring Equinox, will start this year at 6:45 p.m. EDT, March 20th. This is because, astronomically speaking, the sun is directly overhead of the Equator as the Earth`s tilt begins to point the northern hemisphere towards the sun.
As the earth rotates around the Sun, the Sun will be situated directly overhead at mid-day at different times of the year. The Vernal (Spring) Equinox is the day the Sun is again highest in the sky at noon over the equator as the apex progresses north. The day the Sun is straight up at noon over the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn (23.5 degrees N and S latitude) are the summer and winter solstices, respectively.
Many refer to Astronomical Spring on March 20, as the first "official" day of spring. Most meteorologists, except for this year across the East and Midwest, will argue that spring begins a few weeks before, on March 1st.
That`s because meteorologists observe seasons over different time periods. Meteorological spring began March 1, summer begins June 1, fall begins on September 1 and winter begins on December 1.
There are a couple of very important reasons why this is the case. The most important is for climate record-keeping. Climatologists require set time periods to calculate averages and do seasonal comparisons over the years. Astronomical dates will fall on different days depending on the year, and keeping seasonal climate records based on those dates would be confusing and inaccurate.
A second reason is that weather-wise, it makes more sense around the globe. In spring, mild surges of air from the south are becoming a regular occurrence and severe weather threats begin to kick in by March 1. The heat of summer has been experienced in most areas across the country by June 1 and the heat of summer is waning by September 1.
Know Before(tm) and stay informed! Download WeatherBug for your mobile device and desktop computer for real-time observations, forecasts for 2.6 million cities, and the most advanced warnings to severe weather. Follow us on Twitter and Like Us on Facebook.
Story image: Spring Crocus in Chapel Hill, N.C., submitted by WeatherBug user C. Christopher.
What do you think of this story?
Click here for comments or suggestions.