GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Summer has officially come to an end — at least, meteorologically speaking.
Astronomical fall won’t begin until Sept. 22 this year, but meteorological fall begins Wednesday.
Meteorological seasons are based on annual temperature trends, and meteorological summer consists of June, July and August.
Astronomical seasons are based on the position of the earth in its cycle around the sun, and astronomical fall will begin on the autumnal equinox when the sun crosses over the celestial equator heading south.
In 2021, meteorological summer brought slightly warmer than average temperatures and higher than average amounts of rain.
The summer season began in June with a stretch of warm and relatively dry weather. The second half of June was cooler and rainier, and the month finished off about 2 degrees warmer than average and about 4.5 inches wetter than average. There were a few severe weather events that occurred toward the end of the month, including several tornadoes in West Michigan on June 26.
July was climatologically an average month. Temperatures were about half a degree cooler than average, and there was about half an inch more rain than average. Drought conditions continued to fade away, and wildfire smoke overhead led to some vibrant sunrises and sunsets. Severe storms produced areas of wind damage on July 24 and again on July 29.
August finished off over 3 degree warmer than average. There were five 90-degree days in the last third of the month. Some very damaging severe weather events took place, most notably the rounds of severe weather between Aug. 10 and Aug. 12 that led to long-term power outages for much of the state. There was over an inch less precipitation than average by the end of the month.
All in all, meteorological summer was about a degree and a half warmer than average. It was close to 4 inches wetter than average. We saw about 64% of our available sunshine, which is typical for West Michigan.
As we enter meteorological fall, there are several differences that we’ll start to see and feel rather quickly. The average high temperature on Sept. 1 is 79 degrees and the average low temperature is 58 degrees. By the end of meteorological fall on Nov. 30, the average high will be 41 degrees and the average low will be 29 degrees.
Daylight hours will begin to fade away. Over an hour of daylight will be lost by the end of September and there will only be about 9 hours and 15 minutes of daylight by the end of meteorological fall. The time of sunset on Nov. 30 is 5:09 p.m.
The silver lining to the earlier sunsets and the cooler temperatures is that fall colors will begin to emerge. Decreasing daylight and less intense sunshine will begin to change the color of West Michigan’s trees and give us plenty of beauty to look forward to in the coming months.