The difference between astronomical spring and meteorological spring

(ABC 6 News) – Astronomical Spring is the "Spring" most of us are familiar with; it happens when the Earth’s axis is aligned to where both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres get the same amount of sunlight.

This will happen in a few weeks on March 20th.

The Meteorological Spring, on the other hand, runs from March 1st through May 31st.

Todd Shea, the Meteorologist In Charge at the National Weather Service in La Crosse, WI provided extra details.

“Meteorological Winters are always the same length whereas sometimes astronomical seasons or Astronomical Winter can be slightly different by maybe a few days."

It’s that consistency in length that the Meteorological Spring was created because tracking the same three months each year, along with starting on the first of the month makes it easier to track climate data for all different weather measurements; they range from high and low temperatures to rainfall and snowfall.

Shea added that it does not really affect the day-to-day forecasting that goes on at a National Weather Service facility. "On day-to-day weather forecasting and things like that, the difference between the two is not ever used or very crucial."

The only noticeable difference between the Meteorological and Astronomical Spring in the numbers is the temperatures. The end of the Astronomical Spring is typically warmer because it ends in June. Instead, we’re still seeing traces of Winter weather at the start of March for the Meteorological Spring.

As for the forecast over the next few months, there’s still some uncertainty around how much snow or rain we’ll get; the good news is temperatures are expected to be slightly warmer than what we normally see March through May in our area.