When Does Winter Start?



  • One of the things several meteorologists in Oregon do every year is they try to give predictions on what the upcoming winter will be like. They're meteorologists, so their accuracy is about what you would expect.

    Five meteorologists were quoted in [url="http://www.oregonlive.com/weather/index.ssf/2011/10/what_will_the_winter_be_like_f.html"]the local paper yesterday[/url]. What jumped out at me first was, of course, that they don't completely agree. That's normal. But this quote struck me with a WTF:

    " 'La Niña is not as strong as last year, and I think winter is going wait to a little while to get going,' Taylor said. 'I don't think it will begin in earnest until well into December, with the bulk of the storms in January and February.' "

    . . .

    Doesn't winter [i]start[/i] at the end of December? Typically December 21st? Isn't that "well into December"?? And aren't January and February both winter months in their entirety? Shouldn't a [i]meteorologist[/i] know this?

    Sounds to me like, according to this prediction, [i]winter weather is starting exactly when it should.[/i]



  • @nonpartisan said:

    Sounds to me like, according to this prediction, winter weather is starting exactly when it should.
    Sort of like Groundhog Day, which is exactly 6 weeks before the first day of spring.



  • Meteorological winter is generally December, January, February, as opposed ot the astronomical winter of Dec 21.



  • @dhromed said:

    Meteorological winter is generally December, January, February, as opposed to the pedantic dickweedery winter of Dec 21.

    FTFY

     



  • @El_Heffe said:

    @dhromed said:

    Meteorological winter is generally December, January, February, as opposed to the pedantic dickweedery winter of Dec 21.

    FTFY

    Only for half the world. (To be more pedantic)



  • @dhromed said:

    Meteorological winter is generally December, January, February, as opposed ot the astronomical winter of Dec 21.

    I don't really doubt that. However, at least around here (I presume elsewhere as well) they make a big deal about exactly when the season changes, the exact minute the solstice occurs, etc.

    The report in the article is geared to the general public, and the general public is geared to think of the season changes on the [20th|21st|22nd] of [March|June|September|December]. So it looks to someone from the general public like they don't understand what they're talking about if they say winter is going to start late in December.



  • @El_Heffe said:

    @dhromed said:

    Meteorological winter is generally December, January, February, as opposed to the pedantic dickweedery winter of Dec 21.

    FTFY

    Fair nuff.

     



  •  @nonpartisan said:

    at least around here (I presume elsewhere as well) they make a big deal about exactly when the season changes, the exact minute the solstice occurs, etc.

    Around here, the big seasonal change is the start (and to a lesser extent the end) of the "monsoon season".  Once they finally got it through people's heads that the word doesn't have to mean the kind of weather they get in India but a shift in the direction of the prevailing winds, the put a lot of effort into drilling the information that the monsoon officially begins when there are three consecutive days with a dewpoint above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

    That's an inportant turning point in what the weather feels like in these parts.  You can use evaporative cooling when the temperature is high and the humidity is low (our famous "dry heat"), but when the dewpoint rises, evap doesn't work very well and you're advised to switch to air conditioning instead.  It also signals the part of the year when you can count on thunderstorms every afternoon at the same time.

    Only now, for the last two or three years, they've changed the definition of monsoon season to start on June 15th, no matter what the actual weather is like, and ends on September 30th.  This means that the monsoon season now starts when the dry heat is still in full force for the better part of a month before we actually see anything resembling "monsoon weather".  



  • I've always been confused as to why the seasons (in certain parts of the world) are assumed to begin and end at the equinoxes or solstices; if you're going to go that route at all, shouldn't they be centred on them?

    Around here the seasons are always regarded as coinciding with the calendar months, as per the "meteorological winter" mentioned by dhromed. Except that that's our summer, of course. Both the general public and the meteorologists use that definition and nobody cares about the solstices or equinoxes (they might get a throwaway mention on the weather report on the appropriate dates, but that's about all).



  • @Scarlet Manuka said:

    I've always been confused as to why the seasons (in certain parts of the world) are assumed to begin and end at the equinoxes or solstices; if you're going to go that route at all, shouldn't they be centred on them?
    No, because the weather has a delay, like most physical processes.

    You know, when you turn off the heat on the stove, that it's still warm for some time afterwards? (Unless you've got some new gadgets, like an induction cooker.)


     



  • @flop said:

    (Unless you've got some new gadgets, like an induction cooker.)
     

    The pan on top is still warm for some time. :)



  • with globel warming in place, one day winter might never start. then you can also bake in sun like us.



  • @Nagesh said:

    with globel warming in place, one day winter might never start. then you can also bake in sun like us.

    Dude, you have to keep up. Global Warming getting rid of winter is, like, soooo 5 years ago. Now it makes winter worse.



  • @boomzilla said:

    @Nagesh said:
    with globel warming in place, one day winter might never start. then you can also bake in sun like us.

    Dude, you have to keep up. Global Warming getting rid of winter is, like, soooo 5 years ago. Now it makes winter worse.

    I am sorry, but I not understand what you just said. Warming make things hot, acording to English languege I learnt. Did all "expert" in US sudenly change mind?



  • @Nagesh said:

    @boomzilla said:
    @Nagesh said:
    with globel warming in place, one day winter might never start. then you can also bake in sun like us.

    Dude, you have to keep up. Global Warming getting rid of winter is, like, soooo 5 years ago. Now it makes winter worse.

    I am sorry, but I not understand what you just said. Warming make things hot, acording to English languege I learnt. Did all "expert" in US sudenly change mind?

    I will grant you, it's hard to keep up. Technically, it's no longer Global Warming, but Global Climate Change. It has to be, due to the travesty of missing heat and other observations not following the modeled behavior. The important thing is to just follow The Consensus.



  • @Nagesh said:

    @boomzilla said:

    @Nagesh said:
    with globel warming in place, one day winter might never start. then you can also bake in sun like us.
    Dude, you have to keep up. Global Warming getting rid of winter is, like, soooo 5 years ago. Now it makes winter worse.

    I am sorry, but I not understand what you just said. Warming make things hot, acording to English languege I learnt. Did all "expert" in US sudenly change mind?

    This happens all the the time.  This is called bullshitting science.



  • @boomzilla said:

    I will grant you, it's hard to keep up. Technically, it's no longer Global Warming, but Global Climate Change. It has to be, due to the travesty of missing heat and other observations not following the modeled behavior. The important thing is to just follow The Consensus.

    Remember when the polar ice caps melted completely 2 years ago? Man that sucked. But the model was right on target!



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @boomzilla said:
    I will grant you, it's hard to keep up. Technically, it's no longer Global Warming, but Global Climate Change. It has to be, due to the travesty of missing heat and other observations not following the modeled behavior. The important thing is to just follow The Consensus.
    Remember when the polar ice caps melted completely 2 years ago? Man that sucked. But the model was right on target!

    I'm still waiting for my orange groves and seaside property.  Man that shit is going to be dope!



  • @Scarlet Manuka said:

    I've always been confused as to why the seasons (in certain parts of the world) are assumed to begin and end at the equinoxes or solstices; if you're going to go that route at all, shouldn't they be centred on them?

    Around here the seasons are always regarded as coinciding with the calendar months, as per the "meteorological winter" mentioned by dhromed. Except that that's our summer, of course. Both the general public and the meteorologists use that definition and nobody cares about the solstices or equinoxes (they might get a throwaway mention on the weather report on the appropriate dates, but that's about all).

    Yeah, and although I read this site regularly, when I post I still keep thinking US-centric . . . so when I said:

    @nonpartisan said:

    However, at least around here (I presume elsewhere as well) they make a big deal about exactly when the season changes, the exact minute the solstice occurs, etc.

    I was thinking about other places around the US and nothing internationally.  I really need to broaden my horizons and remember that most of the 7,000,000,000+ people on this Earth are not in the US.

    As for when the solstice occurs and a "throwaway mention," I wouldn't consider it a throwaway mention around here.  They usually talk about it for at least a couple of days during the weather reports.  After it occurs, there might even be a mention of it during the main newscast.

    News around here is TRWTF.  They're no longer news broadcasts.  They're entertainment shows.  I remember when the news was 10 minutes local, 5 minutes weather, 5 minutes sports, and about 5 minutes for world/a brief feel good/news of the weird story at the end.  (The missing 5 minutes was for commercials.)  30 minutes and you were done for the local newscast.  Now it's stories like:

    • a teenager recovering after being hit by a car (she'll be okay; driver stayed at the scene; how does this affect me??)
    • a man arrested for going into an unlocked house and sitting down to watch TV; a relative punched the guy out (why is this news?)
    • zombies invade Portland streets (okay . . . not newsworthy . . . it's Halloween . . .)
    • Blaze (the TrailBlazer mascot) is rescued from the Portland Aerial Tram during an annual exercise (it went okay . . . and it's an annual exercise . . . so what?)

    And one of our stations has news from 0430 - 0900, then 1600 - 1700, then 2000 - 2100, then 2200 - 2330,  Really?  There's nothing better you can come up with?

    I'm presuming this local-news-as-an-entertainment-show is not isolated to my area.  It's that way for national news too.  But I digress from the original post . . .

     



  • @Nagesh said:

    @boomzilla said:

    @Nagesh said:
    with globel warming in place, one day winter might never start. then you can also bake in sun like us.

    Dude, you have to keep up. Global Warming getting rid of winter is, like, soooo 5 years ago. Now it makes winter worse.

    I am sorry, but I not understand what you just said. Warming make things hot, acording to English languege I learnt. Did all "expert" in US sudenly change mind?

    If you look at the temperature of the planet as a whole, it's may have been increasing, and may as well keep increasing globally. However, that does not mean ever place gets hotter. Some places get warmer than others, and some places even get cooler, though in average the temperature still goes up.



  • @flop said:

    @Scarlet Manuka said:
    I've always been confused as to why the seasons (in certain parts of the world) are assumed to begin and end at the equinoxes or solstices; if you're going to go that route at all, shouldn't they be centred on them?
    No, because the weather has a delay, like most physical processes.
    I am in fact aware of that. But to my mind, this simply argues that we shouldn't bother about the solstice and equinox at all in terms of the seasons, instead picking something convenient that roughly matches the end result. Which indeed is what we do around here: winter is the months of June, July and August, and the winter solstice is an unimportant event. Contrast this with nonpartisan's statement that
    @nonpartisan said:
    at least around here (I presume elsewhere as well) they make a big deal about exactly when the season changes, the exact minute the solstice occurs, etc.

    So if you're defining your seasons in terms of an astronomical event that doesn't relate all that well to conditions on the ground, why does it make more sense to say "winter is when the days are getting longer but still shorter than the nights" than to say "winter is the quarter of the year with the shortest days"?


    Or are you saying that the weather delay is roughly equivalent to half a season, and that therefore the solstices are chosen merely as "something convenient that roughly matches the end result"? If so - well, OK. They don't seem particularly convenient to me, but they're not so inconvenient that it would be ridiculous to do it that way.


    But this goes back to my original question: why pick the solstices and equinoxes as the start of the seasons? If it's because they are "something convenient that roughly matches the end result", then fine; that would answer my question. If not, then I'm curious to know the reasoning.



  • @Scarlet Manuka said:

    Or are you saying that the weather delay is roughly equivalent to half a season, and that therefore the solstices are chosen merely as "something convenient that roughly matches the end result"?

    I believe that you're over thinking this. Anyways, in the US, the weather-defined seasons are extremely varied in different parts of the country. There's no single definition that would match up, which perhaps explains some of the arbitrariness.



  • @boomzilla said:

    @Nagesh said:
    @boomzilla said:
    @Nagesh said:
    with globel warming in place, one day winter might never start. then you can also bake in sun like us.

    Dude, you have to keep up. Global Warming getting rid of winter is, like, soooo 5 years ago. Now it makes winter worse.

    I am sorry, but I not understand what you just said. Warming make things hot, acording to English languege I learnt. Did all "expert" in US sudenly change mind?

    I will grant you, it's hard to keep up. Technically, it's no longer Global Warming, but Global Climate Change. It has to be, due to the travesty of missing heat and other observations not following the modeled behavior. The important thing is to just follow The Consensus.

    [b]Climate change[/b] is the new terminlogy, [b]global warming is not curent anymore.[/b]

    Understood!



  • @boomzilla said:

    Technically, it's no longer Global Warming, but Global Climate Change.
    I'm surprised they went with 'Global Warming' instead of going direct to 'Climate Change' after their last set of theories failed to pass muster.



  • @PJH said:

    @boomzilla said:
    Technically, it's no longer Global Warming, but Global Climate Change.
    I'm surprised they went with 'Global Warming' instead of going direct to 'Climate Change' after their last set of theories failed to pass muster.

    Because they had Science!



  • @boomzilla said:

    Anyways, in the US, the weather-defined seasons are extremely varied in
    different parts of the country.
    Hey, genuinely useful information! Thanks for that. I guess that moves it away from the "surely there has to be a reason" camp and into the "pretty much random" camp. So that answers my question, more or less.



  • Irish calendar, as taught to schoolkids going back to the 1850s or so, classes winter as November, December and January. They're generally the coldest months here with it starting to turn in February. So it getting cold in late December would mean half of winter was missed

    That hasn't happened, its cold already.



  • @da Doctah said:

    three consecutive days with a dewpoint above 55 degrees Fahrenheit
     

    Ouch.  Entirely too hot.  Moved from southern Ohio to very northern Wisconsin at least partially to get out of even that little bit of muggy heat.  



  • @Cian said:

    winter as November, December and January
     

    That's the months we have snow on the ground.  Well, if you add February, March and April to it too.  Easter usually is below freezing with snow still on the ground.  Egg hunts are interesting. 

    I think that's about the extent of the lakes being frozen, too - end of November until March or April.  February is not really a month where it's starting to turn yet here, though it's the month you start noticing the days are indeed getting longer again and that is the harbinger of good things to come. Usually by February the -40 F temps are gone for the year.  (Actually, I don't think February even brings -30F temps... usually doesn't get too much below, oh, -10 or so.)

     



  • @mahlerrd said:

    @Cian said:

    winter as November, December and January
     

    That's the months we have snow on the ground.  Well, if you add February, March and April to it too.  Easter usually is below freezing with snow still on the ground.  Egg hunts are interesting. 

    I think that's about the extent of the lakes being frozen, too - end of November until March or April.  February is not really a month where it's starting to turn yet here, though it's the month you start noticing the days are indeed getting longer again and that is the harbinger of good things to come. Usually by February the -40 F temps are gone for the year.  (Actually, I don't think February even brings -30F temps... usually doesn't get too much below, oh, -10 or so.)

     

    Sorry, I was wrong.  Last February had 4 days with lows below -10.  Heck, -7 on the 27th of February. Take a look

     


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