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John Wheeler, Published September 09 2012

Weather Talk: First day of autumn more than just date on calendar

If the weather today feels mostly like summer, but it felt just like fall a few days ago, then which is it?

I have a calendar that says “first day of autumn” on the date Sept. 22. The matter can be further muddled by the fact that there are many places in which hot, summery weather will linger long after any equinox. Likewise, there are many places that have been having very cool weather for weeks already.

The moment of the autumnal equinox has nothing to do with the weather anywhere. It is the astronomical moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator. And while the loss of sunlight always brings cooler weather through the fall months, the change is not the same every year.

So when is it fall? Maybe there is no hard answer. Maybe there are many answers. But Sept. 22 is clearly not the answer.


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