Spring begins Tuesday

Posted at 11:39 PM, Mar 18, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-18 23:41:05-04

Although it has felt like spring (and even summer) the past few weeks, spring “officially” begins Tuesday morning at 1:14 a.m.

This is actually an astronomical event called the vernal equinox, which marks the moment the direct rays of the sun hit the Equator.  After this moment, the direct rays continue focusing northward as we approach summer.

Between the vernal equinox (March 20) and the summer solstice (June 20):

  • Normal highs jump from 61° to 88°
  • Normal lows jump from  38° to 66°
  • Amount of daylight jumps from just over 12 hours to almost 15 hours

The dates mentioned above mark the beginning of astronomical spring and astronomical summer according to the position of the sun.  These dates fluctuate (usually on the 20th, 21st, 22nd) some years due to minor variations in the positions of the Earth and sun.

Meteorologists mark the seasons slightly differently.  The seasons are grouped in whole months, eliminating the date variations for more consistent statistics, and also to group the months more according to the weather.  Meteorological winter includes December, January & February.  Meteorological summer includes June, July & August.  The other seasons mark the months between those periods.