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Old 02-09-2012, 07:11 PM
 
Location: USA East Coast
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patricius Maximus View Post
I would consider a "Spring" to only exist in four-season climates that have a winter to transition out of and a summer to transition into, seeing as Spring is a transition season. That encompasses most of North America. My own definitions are rather complicated, seeing as there are multiple shades and grades and kinds of weather that make up a Spring.

There's also the issue that we actually have "two Springs" -- what Alaskans may call Spring is a breakup season, and what someone from, say, Virginia would call Spring is a blooming season. This is the same season that is considered Summer in Alaska, and the breakup-like weather persists during the "Winter" in much of the U.S.

As for myself, I consider these to constitute the differing stages of Spring. This is for universal application and does not reflect typical weather at a certain location, although the early and late descriptions may be adjusted depending on winter warmth:

Breakup - This is the time that the snowpack melts and temperatures frequently rise above freezing, sometimes to 40 or 50 F in a warm wave. Greening of grass is usually but not necessarily absent.

Early Spring or my own "High Spring" - The archetypal weather for this period is 40's and 50's Fahrenheit. Warmer periods above 60 F or even 70 F are commonplace as are cold snaps down into the 20's F and snowstorms that usually melt a few days after the snowfall. Rain or snow may occur, unlike the snow-dominated winter. The snowpack is gone by now. The grass turns green. Hardier plants may come out of dormancy but for the most part vegetation remains dormant.

Mid Spring - Although this is not a distinct stage of weather, this is the time when trees come out of dormancy, and blooming reaches its peak. Flowers give way to the fresh Spring leaves. Rain is now the most common form of precipitation, with snow still very possible but not the rule.

Late Spring - Blooming and sprouting winds down but is still occurring. Trees still have new Spring leaves on them and have not darkened to Summer leaf. More tender vegetation comes out of dormancy and may bloom now. High temperatures prevail in the 60's F with drops to the 50's or rises to the 70's commonplace, but not long-lasting. Precipitation is now almost exclusively rain. Snow may still occur but is uncommon, as are freezing temperatures. Frosts (33-39 F) are still common. Conditions in this period first become favorable for severe thunderstorm outbreaks. The grass reaches full summer color.

At this late stage there isn't much difference with the coming Summer. Summer arrives and Spring ends at the first 3-day stretch of maximums that crack 70 F. At this point there is overlap between early Summer and late Spring, much as there is overlap between late Winter and early Spring. After this point blooming is diminished and the vegetation transitions to Summer leaf. Summer is in full effect once highs average 70+ F and lows average 50+ F. Beyond this there is too much divergence between locations, as the summer intensity varies and that's another topic entirely. Some locations such as the subtropics have very long Summers, stretching from April to October, whereas places like Alberta just make the criteria, with the uncommon Summer frost and on rare occasions getting Summer snow. Subarctic climates never progress much beyond the Spring phase and many never get past the Spring-like season and don't transition to Summer.

By the way, if you're having no cold snaps and consistent warm to hot temperatures necessitating use of air conditioning, that's Summer, not late Spring; I don't care where you're located or what time of year it is. People all too often conflate Spring weather with Summer weather, as The Weather Channel did in 2011 when it showed pictures of people sunbathing and licking popsicles on March 21 as images of Spring; that's Summer. The prototypical Spring (and all Springs to a large degree) are a transition season from a real Winter to a real Summer; in other words, you will have Winter-like weather and Summer-like weather, with the former diminishing in frequency and intensity and the latter increasing in frequency and intensity, with both occuring to some degree throughout the season. Consistent heat and warmth doesn't cut it.

That's my take on what Spring is like.
Wow, that is what I call in-depth lad! Quite interesting.

The problem with many of these definitions (certainly my own included) is that not only are they so subjective…but they are very geographically sensitive. When I really think about it – you do have a point, or at least a valid argument: Is there really a spring in a climate that has no sharp or sensible winter season to transition out of? Yet, even in locations with mild winters, there are seasons and local residents recognize some semblance of the start of spring.

Granted we could exclude much of Florida and southern California as being seasonless…or the wet/dry season as the main difference between the seasons. However, what do we do with the large swath of climates in the USA that have nothing close to what you define as “Breakup” or “Early Spring”…but still have a true cool season/winter at the time of low sun? What do we do with cities like Las Vegas, Tucson, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Florence, SC…ect? Do these cities not have a spring? Using the first 3-day stretch of maximums that crack 70 F as the point when summer arrives and spring ends would be a problem in many areas of the USA: This would mean that cities like Phoenix, AZ, or New Orleans, LA would start summer in late February on average. It’s not uncommon for even stations like Albuquerque, Denver, or Baltimore, MD to have three consecutive days of 70 F or higher as early as April.

I think my idea of the 60 F isotherm as the start of early spring works well for me…but it might not work so well in many areas of the USA. The 60 F isotherm doesn’t reach cities like Seattle or Boston until May…while cities like Las Vegas or Charleston reach the 60 F isotherm in February. I associate spring as when any element of winter (frost/snow no matters how light/temps below 40 F…etc) is stone dead. Granted when I lived in Florida this did not apply – but here in the Northeast/NYC area, true early spring for me starts in early April. Daily highs below 60 F are still just too cold for me to consider it early spring.
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Old 02-09-2012, 11:23 PM
 
Location: Top of the South, NZ
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Other signs of early spring, are when lawns need to be mowed regularly. This is generally mid September here. The lawns might get mowed once or twice during winter, but growth is only sporadic. Also "the arrival of the Godwits" a seabird that flies nonstop from Alaska, always makes me think it's definitely spring.

A sign of late spring I pay close attention to, is when the snapper fishing picks up, and when the kingfish arrive (let the good times roll) from warmer climes
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Old 02-10-2012, 01:46 AM
B87
 
Location: Surrey/London
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The average high in London reaches 50F in late February, 60F in late April, and 70F in early June.
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Old 02-10-2012, 02:09 AM
 
Location: Perth, Western Australia
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For my local climate probably temperatures above 22C / 72F mark the start of spring. Rainfall here is probably more of an indicator, starts to feel more like spring sometime in September when we start getting more sunshine and the rain starts to drop off. Starts feeling like summer once the temperatures are consistently averaging around the 28C / 82F by this time we're usually getting day after day of bright sunshine as well.

My hayfever symptoms are usually an excellent indicator as well :P
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Old 02-10-2012, 05:15 AM
 
Location: Laurentia
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I would also like to add that I forgot to put in the other part of my definition of the beginning of Summer, that it's the first 3-day stretch of 70+ F maximums that occur after the last sub-50 F maximum. My point is that Summer begins with the first warm/hot stretch (of course subjectively speaking) that occurs and sticks around, i.e. there isn't any more chilly weather, hence the sub-50 criterion. If you're having these stretches and afterwards you go below 50 F for the high temperature, you're still in Spring, i.e. still transitioning. If you stay warm to hot (or at least mild), you're in Summer.

Still, the previous definition and the "complications" pointed out by Wavehunter are pretty much still there with this qualification.

To clarify, I think my definitions work very well across a wide geographic expanse, and where they don't work are mostly locations that don't have a Spring to begin with, i.e. don't have any Winter to transition out of. Many places in the U.S. in Winter are in the breakup or early Spring phase, which they consider Winter. Since these places don't have a "real Winter", that's okay and to be expected.

Any place that undergoes any of these Spring phases and still has a vegetation change has a Spring in my view, so it is gegraphically flexible to a certain point. For instance, Washington D.C. may be in the Breakup and Early phases in Wintertime, but they still go through the Mid and Late Spring phases before transitioning to a long Summer. A winter (although not a "real winter") counts for these purposes usually as the season where vegetation is predominately dormant; if you have autumnal foliage and Spring blooms coexisting, you never had a Winter; all you had was a non-summer season, or a Spring/Winter/Autumn blend.

This is what I call the "non-Summer" season, which is the blended season that passes for a "Winter" in the far South of the U.S., perhaps for lack of a better term. What these places have is a mirror image of a Subarctic climate - just as Alaska may have a Winter, then a Spring, and then back, never making it to Summer, a place like New Orleans has a Summer, and then an Autumn, and then back to Summer, never making it to a Winter. Of course there's the bigger problem of the midwinter, or "autumn", blooms in the Deep South, more so than autumnal foliage in midsummer, or "spring" in the Subarctic. However in light of these facts and in light of the fact that the "Spring" in these parts often occurs in Winter or late Winter, it's better to call it a "non-Summer season".

I also see no problem with admitting that far Southern locations have very long Summers, sometimes lasting February to November. There are many differing degrees of Summer, and the "high summer" or the greatest degree of Summer is not reached until later in the year (the three hottest months) in these parts. That doesn't mean the Summer season in March/April/May must be shoehorned into a Spring mould; it's simply a difference of degree, not kind. That's assuming there's much of a vegetation change at all during the cool season; if there isn't you effectively have year-round Summer, and other seasonal descriptors become applicable (such as the wet/dry season). This is a mirror image of the Subarctic and Tundra climates. There's also no problem in admitting that the Far North has long Winters, lasting from September to May, and likewise their greatest degree of Winter occurs during the three coldest months, but the rest of the time is still Winter, just a differing grade of it. Likewise their September/October/November weather shouldn't be shoehorned into an Autumn mould when it simply doesn't fit.
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Old 02-12-2012, 08:14 AM
 
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Early Spring in my part of the world is daytime 8-12c (46-54f) in early spring, 16-19c (61-67f) late spring. Coldest day in March is typically 3 or 4c(37/39f), warmest day in may usually 25-27c(77-81f). Often you will get a night or two below -5c(23f) in March, although days usually make it into double figures C during anticylcones in march. The warmest night in May might be around 15c (60f)
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Old 02-12-2012, 11:32 AM
 
Location: Katy, Texas
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"Spring" in Houston

Early Spring: low 70s with a few low 80s
Late Spring: Consistent highs above 80*F along with the first few 90s of the season
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Old 02-15-2012, 06:59 AM
 
Location: Seattle, Washington
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Early spring = highs mid to upper 50s, lower 60s. Late spring = highs mid to upper 60s, lower 70s. What I'm used to as a life long Seattle resident, anyway.
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Old 02-15-2012, 07:50 AM
B87
 
Location: Surrey/London
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patricius Maximus View Post
I would also like to add that I forgot to put in the other part of my definition of the beginning of Summer, that it's the first 3-day stretch of 70+ F maximums that occur after the last sub-50 F maximum. My point is that Summer begins with the first warm/hot stretch (of course subjectively speaking) that occurs and sticks around, i.e. there isn't any more chilly weather, hence the sub-50 criterion. If you're having these stretches and afterwards you go below 50 F for the high temperature, you're still in Spring, i.e. still transitioning. If you stay warm to hot (or at least mild), you're in Summer.
That would mean summer begins in April for me, maybe May if we have a below average spring.
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Old 02-15-2012, 08:07 AM
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Location: Western Massachusetts
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patricius Maximus View Post
A winter (although not a "real winter") counts for these purposes usually as the season where vegetation is predominately dormant; if you have autumnal foliage and Spring blooms coexisting, you never had a Winter; all you had was a non-summer season, or a Spring/Winter/Autumn blend.
I like this definition, but it would fail in some places. In coastal California, often vegetation is the most dormant in summer (more late summer) and more active in winter. The lack of rain means much of the vegetation is brown and dormant by mid summer. One Californian referred to winter as the "green" season and summer as the "gold" season.

But yea, coastal California has no real winter.
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