The four seasons of the year in the United States - spring, summer, fall, and winter - are what determines weather, hours of daylight, and ecology throughout the year.
The current season in the United States right now is Spring.
In 2023, these are the astronomical dates and times for the start of each season:
- Spring: Begins on March 20, at 5:24 P.M. and ends on June 21
- Summer: Begins on June 21, at 10:58 A.M. and ends on September 23
- Fall: Begins on September 23, at 2:50 A.M. and ends on December 21
- Winter: Begins on December 21, at 10:27 P.M. and ends on March 19, 2024
The times correspond to the Eastern Time (ET) time zone and will vary in different states.
Though they do not comprise the entirety of each month, these are the meteorological seasons:
- Spring months: March, April, May
- Summer months: June, July, August
- Fall months: September, October, November
- Winter months: December, January, February
Because the United States is located on the Northern Hemisphere of the planet, the rule of thumb is that the months of spring through to summer have the hottest temperatures, while the weather gets colder during fall and winter.
However, this is a vast country with a few different regions, which means that there are three climatic zones in America. States such as California, Florida, Arizona, and Texas are usually warm all year round. On the other hand, places like New York, New England, Washington, and the Midwest have more distinct seasonal changes throughout the year.
Spring starts on March 20 or 21 and lasts until June 20 or 21.
The first day of spring happens on the spring equinox, which marks the astronomical beginning of spring. Meteorologically, spring begins on March 1st.
This season comes after winter and before summer, is characterized by the temperatures warming and the days getting longer. It is during spring that plants start blossoming for the summer.
Learn more about Spring Equinox (Start of Spring).
Summer lasts from June 20 or 21 until September 22 or 23, which places it between spring and fall.
This is the warmest of the months, where temperatures soar, and when there are more hours of daylight, as the days are longer than the evenings. In the United States, some regions have warm, humid weather, while in other areas the days are very hot and arid.
The first day of summer is marked by the summer solstice, which corresponds to the astronomical beginning of summer.
Fall begins on September 22 or 23 and ends on December 21 or 22.
During this season, temperatures start dropping, and the nights start getting longer again. Also known as autumn, in the United States fall gets its name because of the leaves on the trees that begin changing colors and falling.
In some states, the landscape totally changes during fall, with greenery being replaced by bright reds and oranges.
Lear more about Autumnal Equinox (Start of Fall).
Winter starts on December 21 or 22, lasting through to March 20 or 21, falling right between fall and spring.
In winter the weather gets colder, with some regions getting temperatures as low as 3 °F, and the nights become longer than the days. Many of the Northern states get snow throughout the season.
The official beginning of winter falls on the winter solstice.
The Seasons of the Year Explained
There is an idea that summer is hotter than the other seasons because it happens when the Earth is closer to the sun, and that when the Earth is furthest from the sun, that's when winter occurs. This is false!
What controls the seasons is the Earth's axis, an imaginary pole that crosses the planet from top to bottom, on which the Earth spins, making one complete spin each day.
This axis is tilted, and when the Earth orbits around the sun throughout the year, different parts of the planet receive the Sun's direct sunlight. This means that when the North Pole is tilted towards the Sun, it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and when it is tilted away from the sun, that's when it doesn't get as much light and heat, which causes winter and fall.
Astronomical vs Meteorological First Days of the Seasons
Because most people observe the astronomical start of the seasons, not many know that there is also a meteorological beginning of the seasons.
The difference is simple, the astronomical seasons go by the Earth's position in relation to the Sun, while meteorological seasons follow the temperature cycle.
As an example, in 2021, the summer's astronomical started is June 20, but its meteorological started is June 1. Here are the meteorological seasons of the year:
- Spring: March 1st to May 30th
- Summer months: June 1st to August 31st
- Fall months: September 1st to November 30th
- Winter months: December 1st to February 28th or 29th
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