Is it "Summer" in Australia right now?

Or is it just warm in the Winter?

In other words, does the actual name of the season change when you cross the equator?

(Bolding mine.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer

In most of Australia, it’s summer now. In the tropical north of Australia, it’s the Wet season now. (In the tropics, you typically have Wet and Dry seasons.)

Australians call the hot season the summer, and the cold season the winter, just as northern hemisphereans do.

In tropical areas, there may be not be much seasonal variation to speak of, or else the main distinction may be between the wet and dry season. (In Spanish-speaking areas, I understand they use the term verano, “summer,” for the dry season and invierno, “winter,” for the wet season.)

A Barbadian once asked me if winter was when it was cold or when it is hot. They just don’t use the words, since their temperatures vary by only 2 or 3 degrees during the year. Their seasons are marked by the rainy season, cane harvest and the like. But once I spent the month of July in Sydney and they called it winter (although it was a pretty feeble winter by Montreal standards).

Indeed. I once saw about an inch of snow fall one July in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney – which are not “mountains” by world standards, but fairly rugged hills with suburbs of Sydney stretched out along the ridge beside the railway line and main highway. That small amount of snow would not cause drivers even to slow down in Montreal: it closed the main western highway out of Sydney for a couple of days.

Similar thing here in Los Angeles. We have three seasons* though: summer, cool-ish summer (winter in other places), and fire.

(*technically, there’s also Oscar season and pilot season)

Correct. The dry season (which is starting now in Panama) is sunnier and (slightly) warmer, and is called the “summer.” The cloudy, cooler wet season is the “winter.”

It could be that I come from a more temperate place, but here in Santa Barbara, I call winter that time of year when it’s cold at night (not by Montreal standards), spring the time of year when it rains, summer, the time when the sun might come out at 3:30 or so, and fall, when the weather is perfect.

I’m in the San Fernando Valley, and it’s pretty warm year-round. Today for example - middle of January and it’s 70 degrees and sunny outside. How is that winter? Yeah, it gets kinda chilly at night but to most Angelenos 50 degrees is “fucking cold”, which of course the more Nordic types around here would laugh at.

Well, here in SB, the lows are hovering at about 40 degrees now, which means that if you’re sane, walking outside at night will require some preparations. Highs have only been around 60 or so. It’s true, though, that we’ve been having cooler than average temperatures (about 3 degrees Fahrenheit) for over a year.

Seasons are defined by the axial tilt of the Earth. So, you can think of it as “summer is the season (in temperate areas) in which your hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun, while winter is the season in which your hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun”. The two hemispheres, northern and southern, thus have opposite seasons from each other.

Well, let’s see. Sydney is at a southern latitude of about -33.859972. The northern equivalent (33.859972) runs right through the Mediterranean Sea. Montreal’s northern latitude (45.5) is equivalent to someplace way south of Tasmania, near Antarctica. In other words, Australia is much closer to the equator than North America. Hence it’s winters would be milder than America/Canada but its summer are bloody hot.

It is my impression that the OP understands this. The question is simply about terminology. Since the words spring, summer, autumn, winter are English and thus developed on the Norther hemisphere, they initially referred to particular months of the year. When English as a language started spreading to the Southern hemisphere, it would just as well have been possible to keep it that way. So, you’d say that it’s universally “winter” all over the world in December and universally “summer” in August, even though “summer” would be the (relatively) cooler time of the year to the people on the Southern hemisphere. Of course, that’s not the usage that developed, but that was more of an historical coincident. It could have happened otherwise.

That’s oversimplifying. The climate of a region is not just defined by its latitude, also by other factors, particularly the altitude or remoteness from the sea and the ocean currents you have. Europe, for instance, is considerably warmer than regions of comparable latitude on other continents due to the Gulf Stream that keeps pumping in warm air from tropical regions - much of Canada and the North Eastern U.S., for instance, is about the same latitude as Northern or Central Italy but gets much, much colder in winter than Italy. Buenos Aires is about the same latitude south as major coastal cities in Norther Africa are north, but it has, overall, a cooler climate.

Yeah, it’s really the best way to describe things in the tropics.

One of the most predictable things in Australia is the daytime maximum temperature in the far north of the Northern Territory. I remember, living in Australia, watching the national weather report on the news each day and wondering why they even bothered giving a temperature forecast for Darwin. On cool days, it gets up to about 30 degrees C (86F) every day, and on hot days it’s generally about 32.

The difference is that, in June and July the region averages about one-tenth of an inch of rain per month, and in January and February it averages 15 inches a month.

This is what I was going to say. Summer isn’t defined by its weather or even its temperature, but by the orientation of the Earth towards the sun.

Hm. I was interested to note that Windsor, Ontario (42°16′32″N 82°57′20″W), Canada’s southernmost point is only slightly north of Rome, and slightly south of Florence (43°47′N 11°15′E). Hell, Lab City (52°57′N 66°55′W) is south of Dublin (53°20′52″N 6°15′35″W). If this planet spun the other way, Atlantic Canada could be quite pleasant*. I’m not saying there won’t be consequences when the world spin was reversed, but …

*assuming for this hypothetical that the major forcing of the climate in the Atlantic is the gulf stream, and that it would reverse neatly. Obviously the situation is more complicated than this. We can start a new thread if you’d like, I don’t want to derail the simple beauty of ‘Is it summer in Australia’, which, as I think about it, would make a nice title for a sixties pop song.

I’ve often wondered why they bother with weather forecasts in Malaysia and Singapore, too- it’s always 30 degrees and incredibly humid in Singapore, at least in my experience. :stuck_out_tongue:

I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We had 9 months of Winter and 3 months of tough sledding. :slight_smile: