BBC Weather: Europe set for ‘significant thunderstorms’
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Summer weather has stuttered in 2021, with on and off extreme heat punctured by torrential rainfall. Maximum temperatures came and went around June and July as a heatwave swept the country and have since trended downwards. The gradual decline signals the beginning of autumn, but the way people mark the beginning of the season will differ.
When is the official start of autumn?
People have two separate ways to govern the seasons in the UK.
Scientists either group seasons depending on the Earth’s position on its orbit around the Sun or by regimented weather and temperature patterns.
According to both, the UK has four seasons and presently has both feet firmly planted in the autumn.
The first and longest-lived method is the astronomical one, which governs the seasons based on the Earth’s orbit.
Our planet follows a 12-month path around the Sun, towards which it has a 23.5-degree tilt.
Astronomical seasons start and end with equinoxes and solstices that have varying lengths each year.
Solstices are the longest and shortest days of the year (summer and winter), while equinoxes indicate days of equal length (spring and autumn).
The autumn equinox took place a week ago this Wednesday, on September 22.
From there, the days will get continually darker and colder until the winter solstice.
In 2021, winter officially starts in just under three months on December 21.
The meteorological definition of the seasons currently has the UK nearly a month into autumn.
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Meteorologists devised seasons by taking into account annual temperature cycles.
To avoid confusion, they split them into four durations of equal length – three months each.
They neatly slot into the Gregorian calendar in a way that makes it easier to forecast and compare weather statistics.
In 2021, autumn officially started on September 1 and will last until winter on December 1.
The meteorological seasons run as follows without variation:
Spring: March, April, May
Summer: June, July, August
Autumn: September, October, November
Winter: December, January, February
As Brits approach October, the weather changes will become most profound.
Traditionally, while September often remains a warm month, October introduces some sharp declines.
Maximum temperatures give way from roughly 18.8C in London to 14.6C in October.
Minimum temperatures for the coming month could settle around the single figures – 8C – down from 11C.
And by December, the maximum will have declined further to 7.4C, with minimums of 2.5C.
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