diamond geezer

 Saturday, June 20, 2020

As spring officially turns into summer, the question arises which season is best?
(I'm using astronomical seasons, not meteorological... i.e. spring = 20th March → 19th June)
(the data is for London - other locations may vary)

There are many ways to judge, but temperature is one of the most important.

TEMPERATURE (average daily maximum)

Summer is of course the warmest season. The average summer's day reaches a peak of 23°C, with spring a full six degrees behind. Autumn and winter don't get a look in. Note that I'm shading my boxes so that the top season has the darkest shade of grey and the bottom season is in white.

DAYLIGHT HOURS (daily average)
15 hours15 hours hours hours

This is another crucial category, given that most people prefer longer days to shorter ones. This time spring and summer are tied for first place, by definition, because they lie either side of the summer solstice. From today onwards daylight hours start decreasing again, sorry.

SUNSHINE HOURS (daily average)
6 hours7 hours3 hours hours

But sunshine hours generally increase after the solstice has passed. The average summer's day is an hour sunnier than a day in spring, so there's something to look forward to. That said London's just enjoyed a record-breaking spring with an average of eight hours sunshine a day, so this year spring will almost certainly beat summer.

RAINFALL (average seasonal total)

Rainfall also varies wildly each year, but on average autumn is the wettest season. The other three are over an inch behind, with spring usually marginally drier than winter, which itself just beats summer. So that's an unexpected meteorological win for spring.


But it's not all about the sky. Another way of judging which season is best is to count the bank holidays, and spring has half the annual total. This time it's winter in second place, with the summer/autumn half of the year trailing far behind.

3 weeks6 weeks1 week3 weeks

Another way of gauging the national mood is to count the number of weeks schools are (normally) on holiday. Here summer takes the lion's share, as the country eases back for several weeks, whereas autumn's when we psychologically knuckle down for another year. Poor old autumn, that's the fourth time it's been in last place.

In summary...

Spring 2ndSummer 1stAutumn 4thWinter 3rd

You might have very different priorities, for example if you hate hot weather, love football or hayfever blights your life. But summer does indeed appear to be the best season, which'll be why so many of us look forward to it during the rest of the year. Spring, however, is only a whisker behind.

Given that we've just wasted a damned good spring under lockdown, let's hope we get the opportunity to enjoy a better summer.

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