Meteorological Winter Begins: Dec. 1

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By Quincy Vagell on December 3, 2012, 5:05pm Last modified: December 4, 2012, 2:02pm

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On most calendars, winter does not officially begin until December 21st (22nd some years), but in the weather community, the "season" kicks off on December 1st.

Winter, by most definitions, doesn't begin until December 21st of this year. That date is when the the astronomonical winter begins, which is also known as the winter solstice. For record keeping and other practical weather uses, the period from December 1st through the end of February is the "meteorological winter."

Why the difference?
As far as bookkeeping goes, it can be easier to have a solid three month time-frame to keep records. Naturally, having it start on December 1st and end on February 28th makes for the cleanest transition. The astronomical winter season varies each year by a day or two.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the coldest three months of the year (in most cases) are December, January and February. Even though the shortest day of the year may be December 21st, there is a lag in the seasons that pushes the coldest weather, on average, into January. Also, as snow and ice builds, this helps keep much of the cold weather going into February in most years.

When one thinks about December in New England, I think in most cases they would associate the month more with winter than autumn. It seems more fitting that winter would kick off on December 1st, rather than waiting for later in the month.

What will winter have in store for Connecticut?
This is a question that gets asked very often, but it's difficult to answer with much certainty. Right now, the pattern looks mild overall, but there are some indications that mid-December could turn colder. However, we've already seen a bit of a recent trend so far that any cold air has been relatively short-lived. As far as snow storms go, unless something drastic changes, there are none expected over the next seven (7) to ten (10) days.

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Quincy Vagell

Town: Marlborough, CT  

Reporting for WXedge since January 2012.

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