Our seasons seem to be running hot and cold
If you think weather has been doing a number on us, you may be right.
That, at least, is what some recent numbers about degree-days indicate — if our sudden shift from swell to sweltering hasn’t been enough.
“Last year we had an extremely wet May, but we didn’t get really hot until mid-June,” meteorologist Robb Lawson of the Wichita office of the National Weather Service said Monday. “This year, it’s just the opposite.”
And it hasn’t just been a few days that have changed. It may be the seasons themselves.
Astronomically, winter begins Dec. 21, spring March 19, summer June 20, and fall Sept. 22.
Meteorologically, December through February typically is regarded as winter, March through May as spring, June through August as summer, and September through November as fall.
But that isn’t how the numbers have been working out recently in Marion County.
If you define winter as uninterrupted days in which heating is needed and summer as uninterrupted days in which cooling is needed, with spring and fall as a mix, a new picture of the seasons emerges.
In Marion County for the past two years, spring has begun around April 7, summer has begun around May 22, winter begun around Oct. 3, and fall — well, we haven’t had one.
Instead of 13 weeks of each season, we seem to be getting 6 weeks of spring, 27 weeks of winter, and 19 weeks of summer.
So much for global warming.
Actually, it is consistent with the real name for global warming: global climate change. But even that doesn’t explain everything.
It’s not just that scientists think the earth is getting warmer each year. It’s that weather is getting more extreme. And this year’s sudden shift from sweaters to shorts has been a prime example.
“It’s been really rough like that the past couple of years,” Lawson said.
Don’t blame it on carbon footprints, however.
“Odds are, we’re just kind of getting hit by normal cyclical changes,” Lawson said.
This year’s rapid warm-up may actually be attributable to a spring that was much dryer than last year’s.
Moist soil takes longer to heat than does waterlogged soil like we had last year, he said. So when weather turns warm, it turns warm with a vengeance. And even forecasters are affected.
“I’m sick of watering my yard already,” Lawson said.
Average temperatures this time of year tend to be in the mid- to upper 80s, he said. By the weekend, we’re expected to be firmly entrenched in the 90s.
As for whether we’re forever stuck with a shorter spring and a non-existent fall, Lawson is far from certain.
Although weather service climatologists constantly monitor such things, usually over bigger periods than just a couple of years, his advice for now is simple:
“Don’t sweat it.”