“Summer ends and autumn comes and he who would have it otherwise would have
high tide always and a full moon every night; and thus he would never know the
rhythms that are at the heart of life.” ~ Hal Borland (Author & N.Y. Times journalist)
The stock market crashing or a computer hard drive crashing … which one causes the most anxiety? Logically I know trouble on Wall Street should be the correct answer. But honestly I’ve been more focused on personal technology. The whole world came to a screeching halt as I wondered how I would write (without Microsoft Word) and send (without Windows and Gmail). Somehow, perhaps through divine intervention, Weather in the Foothills was in its usual location next to Robin on page 2 last Thursday morning. Thankfully the weather cooperated in keeping me cool and calm as I weathered the storm of modern technology. As fall approaches, apples of many varieties begin to appear. For the first time, I am trying one that comes highly recommended by my sons. It now sits on my desktop at the ready!
I feel autumn rather than fall is the much preferred name in referring to the year’s third season. My persistent capitalization is thwarted by others although it really was considered standard many years ago. Have you ever wondered why two names are given to the same season? Maybe not, but there is good research as to why.
The first day of autumn arrives on Sept. 23 at 1:22 PDT this year. It seems the word “Autumn” had its origin from the Etruscan word augere, meaning “to increase” (relating to harvest). Over the centuries, in Latin it became autumnus, then in Old French it became autopne. By the 12th century in England, calling the season “Autumn” is documented though rarely used until the 14th century. By the 16th century, Autumn was joined by Fall in usage. Although the real reason for calling the season fall isn’t perfectly clear. The most obvious is believed to be based on the leaves falling from the trees. Before the season became fall or autumn in English it was called plain and simple “harvest.”
With autumn still two weeks off, it may seem premature to write in such length on its subject. Here’s the deal. There are two legitimate start dates for the first day of autumn. We are most familiar with and see on the calendar the astronomical fall. The lesser known of the two is the meteorological one.
As of Sept. 1, we began meteorological fall. Did I know about this? I was not absolutely certain, so I thought it timely to review the rationale behind why the National Weather Service (NWS) prefers using the meteorological instead of the astronomical seasons.
Astronomically, the seasons change at the equinoxes and the solstices. But the meteorological seasons are grouped by months. Thus explains the two dates – astronomical fall begins on Sept. 23 and meteorological fall began Sept. 1. It seems meteorologists and climatologists found data collecting and recording within a month period rather than a fraction of a month was more economical and made more sense. As our lives revolve mostly around the calendar month, rather than the astronomical season, I understand.
Temperatures over 100 degrees were reported countywide except right at the beaches (in the water!). Over our mountains thunderheads billowed and scattered clouds made for spectacular sunsets. Nighttime highs stuck at 80 degrees. Typical old-fashioned “go back to school weather” a few years ago! Excessive heat warnings and possible thunderstorms are in the forecast, compliments of Hurricane Linda remnants. By the weekend, cooling and cloudy conditions settle in and are expected to continue into next week. The possibility, of colder- than-average temperatures indicates “a time between seasons.”
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.