The buds of spring may have already broken free from the soil but the season officially starts today!
You may be thinking that spring doesn't start until later in March and you wouldn't be wrong thinking this. There are two separate dates which can be used to define the start of the season.
Astronomically, the start of spring takes place on the spring equinox, when the length of day and night are the same in all parts of the world. It is defined by the Earth's axis and orbit around the Sun and the exact date varies slightly each year.
Learn more on the seasons with our Weather Explained video.
Meteorologically speaking in the Northern Hemisphere however, spring beings on March 1st. It is a fixed date because it is statistically easier to process the data by taking four equal quarters for each of the four seasons.
The meteorological spring is made up of March, April and May, while meteorological winter, as we've just had, was December, January and February.
While the days are really getting hotter and longer for us, the opposite is true for those in the Southern Hemisphere. For them, today marks the start of the meteorological autumn.
Welcome to spring! The season begins with a chill across the UK and Ireland, with the prospect of snow arriving over higher ground.
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A pivoting frontal system brings a dose of rainfall for many today, while those at higher altitudes may see spring snow to begin the season.
Starting the day, this front sits over Northern Ireland, Wales, and southern England. All but those at higher ground will see this manifest as rain. Where snow is possible, up to 5 cm could fall. As the front passes over, into the evening, there is a small chance of thunderstorms in southern to south-east England.
Aside from the precipitation, temperatures dip close to, or below, freezing across Scotland and parts of north-east England. No area is likely to see double-digits with cooler air arriving from the Arctic.
Spring has sprung today, in one sense at least. Learn all you need to know about the changing seasons later this morning.
Saturday morning brings our second special report from meteorologist Tamsin Green. This time exploring the link between volcanic eruptions and the weather. Plus, the latest collection of user images on Sunday and a look at what astronomical events March has in store.
Each morning we delve into archives and uncover gems from the vault of images we have collected from users over the years. If you want to get involved, just tap the image icon to upload your own or use one of our dedicated uploaders for the UK and Ireland.
We share the best shots every Sunday afternoon here in the app, and throughout the week on our social channels!
Thanks to 2024 being a leap year, today we have an extra day.
It is a rare date today! February 29. Typically the year has just 365 days but 2024 is a leap year. So why do we have the extra day?
February sees 29 days instead of 28 as in "normal" years thanks to a calendar featuring 366 days.
The reason? Earth orbits the Sun in an average of 365 days, five hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds. However, a calendar year lasts 365 days, creating a deficit. To compensate for this, there is a leap year every four years. However, this still does not perfectly capture the orbit around the sun.
Leap years ensure our seasons do not fall out of sync with the traditional 365 day calendar.
A leap year is also set every 100 years, unless the centuries are divisible by 400, as in the year 2000. Our calendar is therefore ahead of its time, so to speak. This is also reflected in the earlier start date of the seasons.
From 2048, the astronomical start of spring will therefore even take place on 19 March. In 2100, a leap year will be skipped for the next time, so that from 2102 the start of spring will once again fall on March 21.
Seasons depend on the position of the sun
The different seasons are determined by the inclination of the earth's axis to the Sun's orbit. Until now, the Sun has been exactly at its zenith at the equator on March 20 or 21. In the coming years, it will usually be March 20 and later also March 19.
Spring starts this week in one sense, but did you know there are actually two starts to the new season?
On Friday, we welcome the arrival of meteorological spring which annually arrives on March 1st in the Northern Hemisphere. Running from March to May.
Meanwhile, astronomical spring does not begin until the Vernal Equinox which changes slightly each year. This year it falls on March 20th.
A look at Earth's position during each of the four seasons.
To make matters simpler for meteorologists, it is easier to split the year into four neat quarters each three months at a time. In the UK and Ireland this is easy to do as our weather systems generally fit into four distinct patterns.
In other locations this is not possible, in the far-east for example monsoon seasons mean there are only three recognisable seasons while polar regions only see two.
Astronomical spring is based on the position of Earth in its orbit of the sun. Due to the tilt of the planet’s rotation around its axis we see solstices and equinoxes guiding the seasons.