News

When is the real spring sprung?

6th March, 2015

The birds are singing, the days are getting longer and bluebells are scattered across woodland scenes everywhere. This can mean only one thing - spring has sprung…or has it?

The beginning of the season varies depending on whether you are referring to the astronomical or meteorological spring. In most instances the beginning of spring is determined by the astronomical day in our calendars that marks this date. However the Met Office, from whom we receive our forecasting data, uses the meteorological definition. So what is the difference?

Spring Records

  • Wettest: 331.7mm of rain in 1947
  • Driest: 119.8mm of rain in 1974
  • Warmest: An average temperature of 9.2°C in 2011
  • Coldest: An average temperature of 5.8°C in 1962
  • Sunniest: 557.5 hours in 1948 - that's almost 6 hours of sunshine a day!

Meteorological Spring:

Meteorological spring runs from 1st March to 31st May every year, meaning that spring actually began last Sunday. Each season coincides with the Gregorian calendar, and follows four periods of three months each. The three warmest months (June, July and August) make up summer, the three coldest months (December, January and February) make up winter, with spring and autumn falling between these.

By coinciding with the Gregorian calendar it makes it easier for meteorologists to observe and forecast by comparing seasonal and monthly statistics.

Astronomical Spring:

The astronomical calendar is determined by the 23.5 degree tilt of the Earth's rotational axis and the impact this has upon its orbit around the sun.

The solstices and equinoxes are considered to be the transition points between seasons. Each year we experience two equinoxes (spring and autumn) and two solstices (summer and winter). The dates of these will vary from year to year as a result of the Earth's elliptical orbit around the sun. This year the spring equinox does not take place until 20th March, with spring running from that point through to 21st June.

The solstices and equinoxes are considered to be the transition points between seasons. Each year we experience two equinoxes (spring and autumn) and two solstices (summer and winter). The dates of these will vary from year to year as a result of the Earth's elliptical orbit around the sun. This year the spring equinox does not take place until 20th March, with spring running from that point through to 21st June.

Spring Snowfall

Despite the warmer temperatures of recent weeks we have continued to see snowfall in many parts of the country and the Met Office issued weather warnings earlier this week for much of Wales, Northern Ireland and western parts of northern England and Scotland. However, with daytime temperatures continuing to rise, they predict that these will be some of the final snow showers we see this winter:

“It's still normal for the time of year. It's nothing out of the ordinary because we have literally just come out of the meteorological winter. We are expecting that this could be one of the last spells of snowfall.” - Met Office forecaster

Sunny days ahead sign

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