When Does Winter Officially Begin?

While the temperatures already feel the part, the official start to winter is still more than a month away

With significantly colder temperatures, earlier sunsets and preparations for the holiday season, many are starting to wonder when winter officially begins as the weather begins to play the part.

While cold temperatures seem like they're here to stay in the Chicago area, with NBC 5 Storm Team's forecast projecting highs in the 30s for much of the next week, the official start of the next season is still more than a month away.

Although the meteorological winter begins on Dec. 1, the astronomical winter is tied to the winter solstice each year, which occurs when the North Pole is at its' furthest location away from the sun, creating the year's shortest day.

According to the National Weather Service, the astronomical change in seasons will occur at 3:48 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 21. This day will mark the shortest day of the year, although Dec. 22 will mark the first full day of winter.

Despite starting near the end of the months they begin in, astronomical seasons and meteorological seasons both last for approximately three months.

Below is a list of the astronomical season changes we can expect to see following the upcoming winter solstice next month:

  • Vernal Equinox (Spring): March 20, 2023, 4:24 p.m.
  • Summer Solstice (Summer): June 21, 2023, 9:58 a.m.
  • Autumnal Equinox (Fall): Sep. 23, 2023, 1:50 a.m.
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