Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
The new Washington
Post Weather website
Jump to CWG's
Latest Full Forecast
Outside now? Radar, temps
and more: Weather Wall
Follow us on Twitter (@capitalweather) and become a fan on Facebook
Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 09/16/2009

Summer or Fall: Which Is It?

By Ann Posegate

Wx and the City

* Cooler for Now. Some Showers? Full Forecast | Weather Wall *
* What Does an Inch of Rain Mean? | Joe Wilson, Civility & Climate *

Fall foliage near Harpers Ferry, W.Va., Nov. 3, 2008. Courtesy National Park Service.

This three-week period between the end of meteorological summer (Aug. 31) and the beginning of astronomical autumn (Sept. 22) has gotten me and my wardrobe confused.

"Summer to fall" is perhaps the most noticeable seasonal transition of the year. It leaves us in limbo, acting as a late-morning Sunday brunch, when the hour for breakfast has passed but lunchtime is too far away to wait. Amidst the return of Congress, the beginning of the school year, and an acceleration of work and social scheduling, this time period seems to exist in another dimension (or at least in a hidden 13th month of the calendar).

Which season are we in anyway? Summall? Summtumn? Fallmer? Perhaps if we could put a name to these three awkward weeks, we would know what to make of them.

Biologically, I suppose this pre-transition before fall's official transition to winter gives our bodies and wardrobes a chance to adapt. But, even as the school year gets underway, have our dreams of summer escaped us? Are the recent stretches of cooler and cloudier weather enough to put summer firmly in the rear-view mirror?

By Ann Posegate  | September 16, 2009; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Posegate, Wx and the City  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Clouds & Shower Chances Replace Sun
Next: Videos: Freedman, Morano Clash on Climate


The only reason this is an issue is because "summer" here is so unbearably hot. The temperatures earlier this week were certainly summer, and for that matter even today is like some summer days in less inferno-like cities (e.g., anywhere in New England).

Posted by: ah___ | September 16, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

College football has started. Therefore, it's fall!

Posted by: Janine1 | September 16, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Hard to decide...For now, at least, we've replaced the summer heat with a more fall-like regime of cool, damp weather with rather poor drying conditions.

...On the other hand, we CAN get 90-degree weather until about mid-October, and high eighties through nearly all of next month. This is not "official" Indian summer which requires a decent frost prior to the warm spell. We will probably see our Indian summer around Veterans Day or Thanksgiving around here. Up in western Wisconsin, Indian summer occurs in early to mid-October. As of today, they are waiting for the first frost up there.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | September 16, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

For me, as soon as school began we were officially into fall.

Posted by: Brian-CapitalWeatherGang | September 16, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

This is one of my most favorite times of year - the sweetness of summer mixed with the ever-so-slight bitterness of fall.

Posted by: --sg | September 16, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

All good points. Keep 'em coming.

Regional climate is so different around the country ... Summer temperatures last longer than three months in the South, but winter is extended in the North. I think the mid-Atlantic follows the astronomic calendar more closely than the meteorological one (with the exception of warm temperatures all June).

Either way, I'm happy to live in an area that has well-defined seasons, as opposed to, say, San Diego.

Posted by: Ann-CapitalWeatherGang | September 16, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

(I forgot to post last week...West Springfield received 1.04" of rain when the rain finally hit at the end of the week. My bad.)

Posted by: bikerjohn | September 16, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I think of fall as more than merely weather related. Football has started, apple cider is available and the days are shorter. The cooler weather that I have craved all summer will arrive at some point. To me, it is fall on 9/1, whether the weather cooperates or not!

Posted by: authorofpoetry | September 16, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately weather conditions do not cooperate in providing a smooth, linear transition from summer to fall (or between any seasonal transition, whether meteorological or astronomical). Any given day in late summer can be as cool and nasty as any early fall day, and any given day in early fall can be as hot and humid as any late summer day.

On the other hand from the perspective of climate statistics (e,g., "normal" daily high/low temp), seasonal changes are marked by a nice, smooth transition. Indeed, seasonal transitions are great for exemplifying the difference between climate - what you expect, gradually cooler days into fall - and what you get - wide fluctuations that can require air conditioning one day and turning on the heat the next.

The best part of this is that we don't necessarily have have to wait until winter to have a cold day with snow in during fall - but don't count on it

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | September 16, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I can understand there being some debate with football starting, school back in session, etc.

I think it's officially summer until the autumnal equinox (occurring this year on Sept 22). Calendars that display holidays always show the astronomical start of the seasons as indicated by the equinoxes and solstices, never on the first day of the corresponding months.

Posted by: spgass1 | September 16, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Hey guys - Are there any signs of impending cooler day time temps up ahead? I'm tired of these near 80's (or in the 80's) temps. I would love to see temps start getting closer to the 60's instead of the 80's. We have a nice weekend trip with the in-laws from Jersey to Charlottesville the first weekend in October. We would love some cooler temps and foliage. :-)

Posted by: schrute | September 16, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm a gardener - fall is when one can safely plant without fear of a flush of new growth which might suffer over the winter.

Posted by: fsd50 | September 17, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse


no sign of real "crisp" fall weather (sunny/dry with highs in the 60s) in the next 7 days or so...but odds will increase as time wears on

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | September 17, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Jim in NOVA here... back after my summer hibernation :).

I really think for this area the "Memorial Day to Labor Day" definition of summer works pretty well. By mid-September, most years, we are pretty well into the fall like weather.

Posted by: jahutch | September 17, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2012 The Washington Post Company