Tag Archives: childhood

Have the seasons really changed?

As a small child I remember the weather in Illinois being quite different. Everyone I know talks about global warming as an accepted reality and something that’s bigger than our individual anecdotal experiences of climate but I can’t help get over being hung up on my personal relationship to the weather, it feels more meaningful than charts and graphs. As a kid I remembered winters full of deep snow (I’d build forts and snowmen) and falls that are were a pleasant temperate period for 2 months. Now it seems like we have frigid winters without snow, blazing humid summers and spring and fall are really only 2 weeks long. They also seem like they’ve shifted. As a kid this is how I remember it going:

  • Summer – June, July, August
  • Fall – September, October, November
  • Winter – December, January, February
  • Spring – March, April, May

Now I think it’s more like:

  • Summer – June, July, August, September
  • Fall – October
  • Winter – November, December, January, February, March
  • Spring – April, May

The joke here at UIUC is that “spring” break is really just winter break part 2, as it happens in mid-march when it seems to always be in the 20’s and 30’s. The school year is no longer aligned well with the seasons. Now I realize there are many possibilities here, I lived in the Chicago suburbs, which had lake effects, and it’s possible that since I was outside a lot more as a kid my perceptions were simply different. I also might be less tolerant to the cold now. But the real answer, of course, can be found with real measurements (science!). Let’s look at some comparisons (sourced from weather underground) 1993-96 vs 2013-16 for average temperature (red) and dew point (green):

So this is rather dissatisfying, as it would seem the change has been mostly in my head. There’s potentially a little shit to later in the year, but really barely any. Reading around the web seemed to confirm this, as most websites spoke about shifts over the course of 50 years (not 20). I compared Urbana’s records to Chicago’s and found they were about the same, too.

So it looks like this one must be predominantly in my imagination. While I can definitely say “fall” weather (45-65 degrees) in 2017 was only a couple of weeks it’s not the case in the grand scheme of things. Still, I was looking forward to spending more time on my porch this fall, I really only got 3 days out there :/