Winter Comes Knocking

Today is the last day of November, and that means that tomorrow is the first day of ... You were thinking "December," weren't you. Yes, that's true: Tomorrow is December first. But did you know that it's also the first day of winter? Yes, winter. "Not by my calendar," I can hear you say. "Winter starts on December 22. Any fool knows that." Any fool but a meteorologist. The weatherly astute have a different method of reckoning the seasons, based not on the astronomical calendar with its solstices and equinoxes, but on the meteorological calendar. According to it, the different seasons commence on day one of every three month segment. Meteorological spring begins on March 1; summer, on June 1; autumn, on September 1. And meteorological winter starts on--by now you've figured it out--tomorrow, December 1. Why this arrangement? Because it corresponds better with how the seasons actually play out climatically. By the time the winter solstice arrives, winter is normally well underway weatherwise. Here in the Great Lakes, snow has become the precipitation du jour, and it's probably covering the ground. Telling us northerners on December 22 that winter has arrived is pointless. We have, like, kind of already guessed. We've been shoveling it off our driveways for several weeks now. So meteorological winter just makes sense. It's more realistic, it gets the job done faster, and it gets us into spring sooner. Meteorological spring, that is. The snow may not be gone by then, but you can sense change in air. But that's for another post three months from now. Meanwhile, get ready. Winter is knocking on the door.