Meteorological Winter Starts Today

Meteorological winter starts today. Meteorological winter is determined by climatological temperatures while astronomical winter is determined by earth’s orbit. Meteorological or thermological winter is defined as the three month period associated with the coldest average temperatures so the start of meteorological winter can change depending on how far north one lives. This corresponds to the months of December, January and February in the Northern Hemisphere and June, July and August in the Southern Hemisphere.

Astronomical winter does not start until December 21st.  Astronomically, winter can be defined as beginning on the winter solstice, the day of the year which has fewest hours of daylight, and ending on the following equinox. In the USA this defines winter as roughly beginning December 21 or 22 and ending about March 20 or 21.

The organization with perhaps the most winter camping experience or at least participants, the Boys Scouts of America, define cold weather camping as taking place when the temperature is below 50F and involves cold, wet and/or windy conditions.

Many view permanent snow cover and/or ice as a critical aspect of winter camping, requiring cross-country skis or snowshoes to traverse the winter landscape.
One might decide that winter camping is camping which requires specialized cold weather gear such as show shovels, white gas stoves, crampons, insulated clothing and four season tents and/or require specialized skills such as building snow shelters.

Regardless of your location, most agree that nighttime dominates the winter season and lower temperatures are part of the equation.  Dealing with the weather, cold temperatures and inclement conditions challenge a winter camper’s physical comfort.

Winter camping has been described as a time when one switched from “camping to enable hiking to hiking to enable camping.”

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