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Winter is the
cold , a common physiological response to cold, aiming to reduce the loss of body heat in a cold environment File:AntarcticaDomeCSnow.jpg, A photograph of the snow surface at Dome C Station, Antarctica a part of the notoriously cold Polar Platea ...

cold
est
season A season is a division of the year based on changes in weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', and σφαῖρα ''(sphaira)'', meaning 'ball' or ...

season
of the year in
polar Polar may refer to: Geography Polar may refer to: * Geographical pole, either of two fixed points on the surface of a rotating body or planet, at 90 degrees from the equator, based on the axis around which a body rotates *Polar climate, the clim ...
and
temperate zones In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use ...
. It occurs between
autumn Autumn, also known as fall in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Curr ...

autumn
and
spring Spring(s) may refer to: Common uses * Spring (season), a season of the year * Spring (device), a mechanical device that stores energy * Spring (hydrology), a natural source of water * Spring (mathematics), a geometric surface in the shape of a heli ...
. The tilt of Earth's axis causes seasons; winter occurs when a
hemisphere Hemisphere may refer to: * A half of a sphere As half of the Earth * A hemispheres of Earth, hemisphere of Earth ** Northern Hemisphere ** Southern Hemisphere ** Eastern Hemisphere ** Western Hemisphere ** Land and water hemispheres * A half of the ...
is oriented away from the
Sun The Sun is the star A star is an astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma (physics), plasma held together by its own gravity. The List of nearest stars and brown dwarfs, nearest star to Earth is the Sun. Many othe ...

Sun
. Different cultures define different dates as the start of winter, and some use a definition based on weather. When it is winter in the
Northern Hemisphere The Northern Hemisphere is the half of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remain ...

Northern Hemisphere
, it is
summer Summer is the hottest of the four temperate In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenom ...

summer
in the
Southern Hemisphere The Southern Hemisphere is the half (hemisphere Hemisphere may refer to: * A half of a sphere As half of the Earth * A hemispheres of Earth, hemisphere of Earth ** Northern Hemisphere ** Southern Hemisphere ** Eastern Hemisphere ** Western He ...

Southern Hemisphere
, and vice versa. In many regions, winter brings
snow Snow comprises individual ice Ice is water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in which it acts as a ). ...

snow
and
freezing Freezing is a phase transition where a liquid turns into a solid when its temperature is lowered below its freezing point. In accordance with the internationally established definition, freezing means the solidification phase change of a liquid o ...

freezing
temperatures. The moment of
winter solstice The winter solstice, also called the hibernal solstice, occurs when either of Earth's geographical pole, poles reaches its maximum axial tilt, tilt away from the Sun. This happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern Hemisphere, Nort ...

winter solstice
is when the Sun's elevation with respect to the North or South Pole is at its most negative value; that is, the Sun is at its farthest below the horizon as measured from the pole. The day on which this occurs has the shortest day and the longest night, with
day length Daytime as observed on Earth is the period of the day during which a given location experiences Daylight, natural illumination from direct sunlight. Daytime occurs when the Sun appears above the local horizon, that is, anywhere on the globe's ...

day length
increasing and
night length
night length
decreasing as the season progresses after the solstice. The earliest sunset and latest sunrise dates outside the polar regions differ from the date of the winter solstice and depend on latitude. They differ due to the variation in the solar day throughout the year caused by the Earth's elliptical orbit (see earliest and latest sunrise and sunset).


Etymology

The English word ''winter'' comes from the
Proto-Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new ...
noun ''*wintru-'', whose origin is unclear. Several proposals exist, a commonly mentioned one connecting it to the
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
root ''*wed-'' 'water' or a nasal infix variant ''*wend-''.


Cause

The tilt of the Earth's axis relative to its orbital plane plays a large role in the formation of weather. The Earth is tilted at an angle of 23.44° to the plane of its orbit, causing different latitudes to directly face the Sun as the Earth moves through its orbit. This variation brings about seasons. When it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the Southern Hemisphere faces the Sun more directly and thus experiences warmer temperatures than the Northern Hemisphere. Conversely, winter in the Southern Hemisphere occurs when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted more toward the Sun. From the perspective of an observer on the Earth, the winter Sun has a lower maximum altitude in the sky than the summer Sun. During winter in either hemisphere, the lower altitude of the Sun causes the sunlight to hit the Earth at an oblique angle. Thus a lower amount of
solar radiation Solar irradiance is the power Power typically refers to: * Power (physics) In physics, power is the amount of energy transferred or converted per unit time. In the International System of Units, the unit of power is the watt, equal to one j ...
strikes the Earth per unit of surface area. Furthermore, the light must travel a longer distance through the atmosphere, allowing the atmosphere to dissipate more heat. Compared with these effects, the effect of the changes in the distance of the Earth from the Sun (due to the Earth's elliptical orbit) is negligible. The manifestation of the meteorological winter (freezing temperatures) in the northerly snow–prone latitudes is highly variable depending on elevation, position versus marine winds and the amount of precipitation. For instance, within
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
(a country of cold winters),
Winnipeg Winnipeg () is the capital and largest city of the province of Manitoba Manitoba ( ) is a at the of the country. It is Canada's , with a population of 1,278,365 as of 2016. The easternmost of the three , Manitoba covers of widely varied ...

Winnipeg
on the
Great Plains The Great Plains (french: Grandes Plaines), sometimes simply "the Plains", is a broad expanse of flatland ''Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions'' is a satire, satirical novella by the English schoolmaster Edwin Abbott Abbott, first publi ...
, a long way from the ocean, has a January high of and a low of . In comparison,
Vancouver Vancouver ( ) is a major city in western Canada Western Canada, also referred to as the Western Provinces and more commonly known as the West, is a region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth desc ...

Vancouver
on the west coast with a marine influence from moderating Pacific winds has a January low of with days well above freezing at . Both places are at 49°N latitude, and in the same western half of the continent. A similar but less extreme effect is found in Europe: in spite of their northerly latitude, the British Isles have not a single non-mountain weather station with a below-freezing mean January temperature.


Meteorological reckoning

Meteorological reckoning is the method of measuring the winter season used by
meteorologists A meteorologist is a scientist who studies and works in the field of meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the (which include and ), with a major focus on . The study of meteorology dates back , though significant progress in meteorology ...
based on "sensible weather patterns" for record keeping purposes, so the start of meteorological winter varies with latitude. Winter is often defined by meteorologists to be the three calendar months with the lowest average temperatures. This corresponds to the months of December, January and February in the
Northern Hemisphere The Northern Hemisphere is the half of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remain ...

Northern Hemisphere
, and June, July and August in the
Southern Hemisphere The Southern Hemisphere is the half (hemisphere Hemisphere may refer to: * A half of a sphere As half of the Earth * A hemispheres of Earth, hemisphere of Earth ** Northern Hemisphere ** Southern Hemisphere ** Eastern Hemisphere ** Western He ...

Southern Hemisphere
. The coldest average temperatures of the season are typically experienced in January or February in the Northern Hemisphere and in June, July or August in the Southern Hemisphere. Nighttime predominates in the winter season, and in some regions winter has the highest rate of
precipitation In meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the (which include and ), with a major focus on . The study of meteorology dates back , though significant progress in meteorology did not begin until the 18th century. The 19th century saw mod ...
as well as prolonged dampness because of permanent snow cover or high precipitation rates coupled with low temperatures, precluding evaporation.
Blizzard A blizzard is a severe Winter storm, snowstorm characterized by strong sustained winds of at least and lasting for a prolonged period of time—typically three hours or more. A ground blizzard is a weather condition where snow is not fallin ...

Blizzard
s often develop and cause many transportation delays.
Diamond dust Diamond dust is a ground-level cloud In meteorology, a cloud is an aerosol consisting of a visible mass of minute liquid drop (liquid), droplets, ice crystals, frozen crystals, or other particulates, particles suspended in the atmosphere o ...
, also known as ice needles or ice crystals, forms at temperatures approaching due to air with slightly higher moisture from above mixing with colder, surface-based air. They are made of simple hexagonal ice crystals. The Swedish meteorological institute (SMHI) defines ''thermal winter'' as when the daily mean temperatures are below for five consecutive days. According to the SMHI, winter in Scandinavia is more pronounced when Atlantic low-pressure systems take more southerly and northerly routes, leaving the path open for high-pressure systems to come in and cold temperatures to occur. As a result, the coldest January on record in
Stockholm Stockholm (; ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smalle ...

Stockholm
, in 1987, was also the sunniest. Accumulations of snow and ice are commonly associated with winter in the Northern Hemisphere, due to the large land masses there. In the Southern Hemisphere, the more maritime climate and the relative lack of land south of 40°S makes the winters milder; thus, snow and ice are less common in inhabited regions of the Southern Hemisphere. In this region, snow occurs every year in elevated regions such as the Andes, the Great Dividing Range in Australia, and the mountains of New Zealand, and also occurs in the southerly
Patagonia Patagonia () refers to a geographical region that encompasses the southern end of South America South America is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convent ...

Patagonia
region of South Argentina. Snow occurs year-round in
Antarctica Antarctica ( or ) is Earth's southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Oc ...

Antarctica
.


Astronomical and other calendar-based reckoning

In the
Northern Hemisphere The Northern Hemisphere is the half of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remain ...

Northern Hemisphere
, some authorities define the period of winter based on astronomical fixed points (i.e. based solely on the position of the Earth in its orbit around the Sun), regardless of weather conditions. In one version of this definition, winter begins at the
winter solstice The winter solstice, also called the hibernal solstice, occurs when either of Earth's geographical pole, poles reaches its maximum axial tilt, tilt away from the Sun. This happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern Hemisphere, Nort ...

winter solstice
and ends at the
March equinox The March equinox or northward equinox is the equinox An equinox is the instant of time when the plane of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's s ...
. These dates are somewhat later than those used to define the beginning and end of the meteorological winter – usually considered to span the entirety of December, January, and February in the Northern Hemisphere and June, July, and August in the Southern. Astronomically, the winter solstice, being the day of the year which has fewest hours of daylight, ought to be in the middle of the season, but
seasonal lag Seasonal lag is the phenomenon A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable fact or event. The term came into its modern philosophical usage through Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (, ; ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a G ...
means that the coldest period normally follows the solstice by a few weeks. In some cultures, the season is regarded as beginning at the solstice and ending on the following
equinox An equinox is traditionally defined as the time when the plane In mathematics, a plane is a flatness (mathematics), flat, two-dimensional surface (mathematics), surface that extends infinitely far. A plane is the two-dimensional space, two-di ...

equinox
– in the Northern Hemisphere, depending on the year, this corresponds to the period between 20, 21 or 22 December and 19, 20 or 21 March. In Scandinavia, winter in one tradition begins on 14 October and ends on the last day of February. In many countries in the
Southern Hemisphere The Southern Hemisphere is the half (hemisphere Hemisphere may refer to: * A half of a sphere As half of the Earth * A hemispheres of Earth, hemisphere of Earth ** Northern Hemisphere ** Southern Hemisphere ** Eastern Hemisphere ** Western He ...

Southern Hemisphere
, including Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, winter begins on 1 June and ends on 31 August. In
Celtic nations The Celtic nations are a cultural area and collection of geographical regions in Northwestern Europe where the Celtic languages and cultural traits have survived. The term ''nation'' is used in its original sense to mean a people who share a c ...
such as Ireland (using the Irish calendar) and in Scandinavia, the winter solstice is traditionally considered as midwinter, with the winter season beginning 1 November, on , or
Samhain Samhain (, , ; gv, Sauin ) is a Gaels, Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter or "Celtic calendar#Medieval Irish and Welsh calendars, darker-half" of the year. It is held on 1 November but with celebration ...
. Winter ends and spring begins on
Imbolc Imbolc or Imbolg (), also called Saint Brigid's Day ( ga, Lá Fhéile Bríde; gd, Là Fhèill Brìghde; gv, Laa'l Breeshey), is a Gaelic Gaelic is an adjective that means "pertaining to the Gaels". As a noun it refers to the group of languag ...
, or
Candlemas Candlemas (also spelled Candlemass), also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Feast of the Holy Encounter, is a Christian Holy Day commemorating the presentatio ...
, which is 1 or 2 February. This system of seasons is based on the length of days exclusively. The three-month period of the shortest days and weakest solar radiation occurs during November, December and January in the Northern Hemisphere and May, June and July in the
Southern Hemisphere The Southern Hemisphere is the half (hemisphere Hemisphere may refer to: * A half of a sphere As half of the Earth * A hemispheres of Earth, hemisphere of Earth ** Northern Hemisphere ** Southern Hemisphere ** Eastern Hemisphere ** Western He ...

Southern Hemisphere
. Also, many mainland European countries tended to recognize
Martinmas Saint Martin's Day, also called the Funeral of Saint Martin, Martinstag or Martinmas, as well as Old Halloween and Old Hallowmas Eve, is the Funeral day of Saint Martin of Tours (else Martin le Miséricordieux) and is celebrated on 11 November each ...
or St. Martin's Day (11 November), as the first calendar day of winter. The day falls at the midpoint between the old Julian equinox and
solstice A solstice is an event that occurs when the Sun appears to reach its most northerly or southerly excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere In astronomy and navigation, the celestial sphere is an abstraction, abstr ...

solstice
dates. Also,
Valentine's Day Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. It originated as a Christian feast day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine and, throu ...
(14 February) is recognized by some countries as heralding the first rites of spring, such as flowers blooming. In
Chinese astronomy Astronomy in China has a long history stretching from the Shang Dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were hereditary mo ...
and other East Asian
calendars A calendar is a system of organizing days. This is done by giving names to periods of time Time is the indefinite continued sequence, progress of existence and event (philosophy), events that occur in an apparently irreversible process, ...
, winter is taken to commence on or around 7 November, with the '' Jiéqì'' (known as 立冬 ''lì dōng'' – literally, "establishment of winter"). The three-month period associated with the coldest average temperatures typically begins somewhere in late November or early December in the Northern Hemisphere and lasts through late February or early March. This "thermological winter" is earlier than the solstice delimited definition, but later than the daylight (Celtic) definition. Depending on
seasonal lag Seasonal lag is the phenomenon A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable fact or event. The term came into its modern philosophical usage through Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (, ; ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a G ...
, this period will vary between climatic regions. Cultural influences such as Christmas creep may have led to the winter season being perceived as beginning earlier in recent years, although high latitude countries like Canada are usually well into their real winters before the December solstice. Since by almost all definitions valid for the Northern Hemisphere, winter spans 31 December and 1 January, the season is split across years, just like summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Each calendar year includes parts of two winters. This causes ambiguity in associating a winter with a particular year, e.g. "Winter 2018". Solutions for this problem include naming both years, e.g. "Winter 18/19", or settling on the year the season starts in or on the year most of its days belong to, which is the later year for most definitions.


Ecological reckoning and activity

Ecological reckoning of winter differs from calendar-based by avoiding the use of fixed dates. It is one of six seasons recognized by most ecologists who customarily use the term ''hibernal'' for this period of the year (the other ecological seasons being prevernal, vernal, estival, serotinal, and autumnal). The hibernal season coincides with the main period of biological dormancy each year whose dates vary according to local and regional climates in temperate zones of the Earth. The appearance of flowering plants like the crocus can mark the change from ecological winter to the prevernal season as early as late January in mild temperate climates. To survive the harshness of winter, many animals have developed different behavioral and morphological adaptations for
overwintering Overwintering is the process by which some organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are classified by tax ...
: *
Migration Migration, migratory, or migrate may refer to: Human migration * Human migration, physical movement by humans from one region to another ** International migration, when peoples cross state boundaries and stay in the host state for some minimum len ...
is a common effect of winter upon animals such as
migratory birds Bird migration is the regular seasonal movement, often north and south along a flyway, between breeding and wintering grounds. Many species of bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class (biology), class ...

migratory birds
. Some
butterflies Butterflies are insect Insects (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', m ...

butterflies
also migrate seasonally. *
Hibernation Hibernation is a state of minimal activity and metabolic Metabolism (, from el, μεταβολή ''metabolē'', "change") is the set of life Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological ...

Hibernation
is a state of reduced
metabolic activity Metabolism (, from el, μεταβολή ''metabolē'', "change") is the set of life Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as signaling and self-sustaining processes, ...

metabolic activity
during the winter. Some animals "sleep" during winter and only come out when the warm weather returns; e.g.,
gopher Pocket gophers, commonly referred to simply as gophers, are burrowing An Eastern chipmunk at the entrance of its burrow A burrow is a hole or tunnel excavated into the ground by an animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular ...
s, frogs, snakes, and bats. *Some animals store food for the winter and live on it instead of hibernating completely. This is the case for
squirrel Squirrels are members of the family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social terri ...

squirrel
s,
beaver Beavers are large, semiaquatic In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interaction ...

beaver
s,
skunk Skunks are mammals Mammals (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. T ...

skunk
s,
badger Badgers are short-legged omnivore An omnivore () is an animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotro ...

badger
s, and
raccoon The raccoon ( or , ''Procyon lotor''), sometimes called the common raccoon to distinguish it from other species, is a medium-sized mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are a group of vertebrate animals constituting t ...

raccoon
s. *Resistance is observed when an animal endures winter but changes in ways such as color and musculature. The color of the fur or plumage changes to white (in order to be confused with snow) and thus retains its cryptic coloration year-round. Examples are the
rock ptarmigan The rock ptarmigan (') is a medium-sized Galliformes, game bird in the grouse family (biology), family. It is known simply as the ptarmigan in the UK and in Canada, where it is the official bird for the territory of Nunavut, and the official ga ...
,
Arctic fox The Arctic fox (''Vulpes lagopus''), also known as the white fox, polar fox, or snow fox, is a small fox Foxes are small to medium-sized, s belonging to several of the family . They have a flattened skull, upright triangular ears, a ...

Arctic fox
,
weasel Weasels are mammals of the genus ''Mustela'' of the family (biology), family Mustelidae. The genus ''Mustela'' includes the least weasels, polecats, stoats, ferrets and mink. Members of this genus are small, active predators, with long and slen ...

weasel
,
white-tailed jackrabbit The white-tailed jackrabbit (''Lepus townsendii''), also known as the prairie hare and the white jack, is a species of hare found in western North America. Like all hares and rabbits, it is a member of the Family (biology), family Leporidae of Ord ...

white-tailed jackrabbit
, and
mountain hare The mountain hare (''Lepus timidus''), also known as blue hare, tundra hare, variable hare, white hare, snow hare, alpine hare, and Irish hare, is a Palearctic The Palearctic or Palaearctic is the largest of the eight biogeographic realm ...
. *Some fur-coated mammals grow a heavier coat during the winter; this improves the heat-retention qualities of the fur. The coat is then shed following the winter season to allow better cooling. The heavier coat in winter made it a favorite season for trappers, who sought more profitable skins. *Snow also affects the ways animals behave; many take advantage of the insulating properties of snow by burrowing in it. Mice and
vole Voles are small rodents that are relatives of lemmings and hamsters, but with a stouter body; a shorter, hairy tail; a slightly rounder head; smaller ears and eyes; and differently formed molar (tooth), molars (high-crowned with angular cusps ...
s typically live under the snow layer. Some
annual plant An annual plant is a plant that completes its life cycle Life cycle, life-cycle, or lifecycle may refer to: Science and academia *Biological life cycle, the sequence of life stages that an organism undergoes from birth to reproduction ending w ...
s never survive the winter. Other annual plants require winter cold to complete their life cycle; this is known as
vernalization Vernalization (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the R ...
. As for
perennial A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the plant kingdom encompassed all living things that were not animals, and incl ...
s, many small ones profit from the insulating effects of snow by being buried in it. Larger plants, particularly
deciduous trees In the fields of horticulture and botany, the term ''deciduous'' (; ) means "falling off at maturity" and "tending to fall off", in reference to tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (bo ...
, usually let their upper part go dormant, but their roots are still protected by the snow layer. Few plants bloom in the winter, one exception being the flowering plum, which flowers in time for
Chinese New Year Chinese New Year ( ), Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year, is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year New Year is the time or day at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar's calendar era, year count incr ...

Chinese New Year
. The process by which plants become acclimated to cold weather is called hardening.


Examples


Exceptionally cold

*1683–1684, "The Great Frost", when the
Thames The River Thames ( ), known alternatively in parts as the River Isis, is a river that flows through southern England Southern England, or the South of England, also known as the South, is an area of England consisting of its southernm ...

Thames
, hosting the
River Thames frost fairs The River Thames frost fairshttps://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details/collection_image_gallery.aspx?assetId=599805001&objectId=3199037&partId=1 Erra Paters Prophesy or Frost Faire 1684/3 were held on the ...
, was frozen all the way up to
London Bridge Several bridges named London Bridge have spanned the River Thames The River Thames ( ), known alternatively in parts as the River Isis, is a river that flows through southern England Southern England, or the South of England, als ...

London Bridge
and remained frozen for about two months. Ice was about thick in London and about thick in Somerset. The sea froze up to out around the coast of the southern North Sea, causing severe problems for shipping and preventing use of many harbours. *1739–1740, one of the most severe winters in the UK on record. The Thames remained frozen over for about 8 weeks. The Irish famine of 1740–1741 claimed the lives of at least 300,000 people. *1816 was the Year Without a Summer in the Northern Hemisphere. The unusual coolness of the winter of 1815–1816 and of the following summer was primarily due to the eruption of
Mount Tambora Mount Tambora, or Tomboro, is an active stratovolcano in West Nusa Tanagra, Sumbawa, Indonesia in one of the Lesser Sunda Islands The Lesser Sunda Islands ( id, Kepulauan Nusa Tenggara "southeastern archipelago" or "lesser sunda archip ...
in Indonesia, in April 1815. There were secondary effects from an unknown eruption or eruptions around 1810, and several smaller eruptions around the world between 1812 and 1814. The cumulative effects were worldwide but were especially strong in the Eastern United States, Atlantic Canada, and Northern Europe. Frost formed in May in New England, killing many newly planted crops, and the summer never recovered. Snow fell in New York and Maine in June, and ice formed in lakes and rivers in July and August. In the UK, snow drifts remained on hills until late July, and the Thames froze in September. Agricultural crops failed and livestock died in much of the Northern Hemisphere, resulting in food shortages and the worst famine of the 19th century. *1887–1888, there were record cold temperatures in the Upper Midwest, heavy snowfalls worldwide, and amazing storms, including the
Schoolhouse Blizzard The Schoolhouse Blizzard, also known as the Schoolchildren's Blizzard, School Children's Blizzard, or Children's Blizzard, hit the U.S. Great Plains, plains states on January 12, 1888. The blizzard came unexpectedly on a relatively warm day, and m ...

Schoolhouse Blizzard
of 1888 (in the Midwest in January), and the
Great Blizzard of 1888 The Great Blizzard of 1888, Great Blizzard of '88, or the Great White Hurricane (March 11–14, 1888) was one of the most severe recorded blizzards in American history. The storm paralyzed the East Coast from the Chesapeake Bay The Chesapeake ...
(in the Eastern US and Canada in March). *In Europe, the winters of early 1947, February 1956, 1962–1963, 1981–1982 and 2009–2010 were abnormally cold. The UK winter of 1946–1947 started out relatively normal, but became one of the snowiest UK winters to date, with nearly continuous snowfall from late January until March. *In South America, the winter of 1975 was one of the strongest, with record snow occurring at 25°S in cities of low altitude, with the registration of −17 °C (1.4 °F) in some parts of southern Brazil. * *In the eastern United States and Canada, the winter of 2013–2014 and the second half of February 2015 were abnormally cold.


Historically significant

*1310–1330, many severe winters and cold, wet summers in Europe – the first clear manifestation of the unpredictable weather of the
Little Ice Age The Little Ice Age (LIA) was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) also known as the Medieval Climate Optimum, or Medieval Climatic Anomaly was a time of warm climate Climate is the ...
that lasted for several centuries (from about 1300 to 1900). The persistently cold, wet weather caused great hardship, was primarily responsible for the
Great Famine of 1315–1317 The Great Famine of 1315–1317 (occasionally dated 1315–1322) was the first of a series of large-scale crises that struck Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by conve ...
, and strongly contributed to the weakened immunity and malnutrition leading up to the
Black Death The Black Death (also known as the Pestilence, the Great Mortality or the Plague) was a bubonic plague Bubonic plague is one of three types of plague caused by the plague bacterium Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bact ...

Black Death
(1348–1350). *1600–1602, extremely cold winters in Switzerland and Baltic region after eruption of
Huaynaputina Huaynaputina ( ; ) is a volcano in a volcanic high plateau in southern Peru. Lying in the Central Volcanic Zone of the Andes, it was formed by the subduction of the oceanic Nazca Plate under the continental South American Plate. Huaynaputina is ...

Huaynaputina
in Peru in 1600. *1607–1608, in North America, ice persisted on Lake Superior until June. Londoners held their first frost fair on the frozen-over River Thames. *1622, in Turkey, the
Golden Horn 300px, The Golden Horn as seen from Galata Bridge The Golden Horn ( tr, Altın Boynuz or ''Haliç''; grc, Χρυσόκερας, ''Chrysókeras''; la, Sinus Ceratinus) is a major urban waterway and the primary inlet of the Bosphorus F ...

Golden Horn
and southern section of Bosphorus froze over. *1690s, extremely cold, snowy, severe winters. Ice surrounded Iceland for miles in every direction. *1779–1780, Scotland's coldest winter on record, and ice surrounded Iceland in every direction (like in the 1690s). In the United States, a record five-week cold spell bottomed out at at Hartford, Connecticut, and in New York City. Hudson River and New York's harbor froze over. *1783–1786, the Thames partially froze, and snow remained on the ground for months. In February 1784, the ''North Carolina'' was frozen in Chesapeake Bay. *1794–1795, severe winter, with the coldest January in the UK and lowest temperature ever recorded in London: on 25 January. The cold began on Christmas Eve and lasted until late March, with a few temporary warm-ups. The Severn and Thames froze, and frost fairs started up again. The French army tried to invade the Netherlands over its frozen rivers, while the Dutch fleet was stuck in its harbor. The winter had easterlies (from Siberia) as its dominant feature. *1813–1814, severe cold, last freeze-over of Thames, and last frost fair. (Removal of old London Bridge and changes to river's banks made freeze-overs less likely.) *1883–1888, colder temperatures worldwide, including an unbroken string of abnormally cold and brutal winters in the Upper Midwest, related to the explosion of
Krakatoa Krakatoa (), also transcribed Krakatau (; id, Krakatau), is a caldera A caldera is a large cauldron A cauldron (or caldron) is a large cast iron Cast iron is a group of iron-carbon alloys with a carbon content more than 2%. Its ...

Krakatoa
in August 1883. There was snow recorded in the UK as early as October and as late as July during this time period. *1976–1977, one of the coldest winters in the US in decades. *1985, Arctic outbreak in US resulting from shift in polar vortex, with many cold temperature records broken. *2002–2003 was an unusually cold winter in the Northern and Eastern US. *2010–2011, persistent bitter cold in the entire eastern half of the US from December onward, with few or no mid-winter warm-ups, and with cool conditions continuing into spring.
La Niña La Niña (; ) is an oceanic and atmospheric phenomenon that is the colder counterpart of as part of the broader El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern. The name ''La Niña'' originates from Spanish language, Spanish for "th ...
and negative
Arctic oscillation The Arctic oscillation (AO) or Northern Annular Mode/Northern Hemisphere Annular Mode (NAM) is a weather phenomenon at the Arctic poles north of 20 degrees latitude. It is an important Climate variability, mode of climate variability for the Norther ...

Arctic oscillation
were strong factors. Heavy and persistent precipitation contributed to almost constant snow cover in the Northeastern US which finally receded in early May. *2011 was one of the coldest on record in
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Engl ...

New Zealand
with sea level snow falling in
Wellington Wellington ( mi, Te Whanganui-a-TaraTe Whanganui-a-Tara is the Māori name for Wellington Harbour. The term is also used to refer to the city of Wellington Wellington ( mi, Te Whanganui-a-Tara ) is the capital city of New Zealand. It i ...

Wellington
in July for the first time in 35 years and a much heavier snowstorm for 3 days in a row in August.


Humans

Humans are sensitive to cold, see
hypothermia Hypothermia is defined as a body core temperature Core or cores may refer to: Science and technology * Core (anatomy), everything except the appendages * Core (manufacturing), used in casting and molding * Core (optical fiber), the signal ...
.
Snowblindness Photokeratitis or ultraviolet keratitis is a painful eye condition caused by exposure of insufficiently protected eyes Eyes are organs An organ is a group of tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on many orga ...
,
norovirus Norovirus, sometimes referred to as the winter vomiting bug, is the most common cause of gastroenteritis. Infection is characterized by non-bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Fever or headaches may also occur. Symptoms usually develop ...
, seasonal depression. Slipping on black ice and falling
icicle An icicle is a spike of ice formed when water falling from an object freezing, freezes. Formation and dynamics Icicles can form during bright, sunny, but subfreezing weather, when ice or snow melted by sunlight or some other heat source ...

icicle
s are other health concerns associated with cold and snowy weather. In the Northern Hemisphere, it is not unusual for homeless people to die from hypothermia in the winter. One of the most common diseases associated with winter is
influenza Influenza, commonly known as "the flu", is an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), ...

influenza
.


Mythology

In
Persian culture The Culture of Iran (Persian language, Persian: فرهنگ ایران) or Culture of PersiaYarshater, EhsaPersia or Iran, Persian or Farsi, ''Iranian Studies'', vol. XXII no. 1 (1989) is one of the most influential cultures in the world. Iran (Nam ...
, the winter solstice is called Yaldā (meaning: birth) and it has been celebrated for thousands of years. It is referred to as the eve of the birth of
Mithra Mithra ( ae, ''Miθra'', peo, 𐎷𐎰𐎼 ''Miça'') commonly known as Mehr, is the Zoroastrian Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is an Iranian religion and one of the world's oldest continuously-practiced organized faiths, based on the tea ...

Mithra
, who symbolised light, goodness and strength on earth. In
Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psyc ...
,
Hades Hades (; grc-gre, ᾍδης, Háidēs; ), in the ancient Greek religion Ancient Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs, rituals, and Greek mythology, mythology originating in ancient Greece in the form of both popular public ...

Hades
kidnapped
Persephone In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the Cosmogony, origin and Cosmology#Metaphysical cosmology, nature ...

Persephone
to be his wife.
Zeus Zeus or , , ; grc, Δῐός, ''Diós'', label=genitive In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Ling ...

Zeus
ordered Hades to return her to
Demeter In ancient Greek religion Ancient Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs, rituals, and Greek mythology, mythology originating in ancient Greece in the form of both popular public religion and Cult (religious practice), cult ...

Demeter
, the goddess of the Earth and her mother. Hades tricked Persephone into eating the food of the dead, so Zeus decreed that she spend six months with Demeter and six months with Hades. During the time her daughter is with Hades, Demeter became depressed and caused winter. In
Welsh mythology Welsh mythology consists of both folk traditions developed in Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth ...
,
Gwyn ap Nudd Gwyn ap Nudd (, sometimes found with the antiquated spelling Gwynn ap Nudd) is a Welsh mythological figure, the king of the ''Tylwyth Teg'' or "fairy, fair folk" and ruler of the Welsh Otherworld, Annwn, and whose name means “Gwyn, son of Nudd” ...
abducted a maiden named
CreiddyladCreiddylad (also known as ''Creirddylad'', ''Creurdilad'', ''Creudylad'' or ''Kreiddylat''), daughter of King Lludd, is a minor character in the early medieval Welsh Arthurian King Arthur ( cy, Brenin Arthur, kw, Arthur Gernow, br, Roue A ...
. On May Day, her lover, Gwythr ap Greidawl, fought Gwyn to win her back. The battle between them represented the contest between summer and winter. *
Old Man Winter Old Man Winter is a personification Personification occurs when a thing or abstraction is represented as a person, in literature or art, as an anthropomorphic Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are ...

Old Man Winter
*
Jack Frost Jack Frost is a personification of frost, ice, snow, Rain and snow mixed, sleet, winter, and freezing cold. He is a variant of Old Man Winter who is held responsible for frosty weather, nipping the fingers and toes in such weather, coloring the ...
*
Ded Moroz Ded Moroz (russian: Дед Мороз, , ; tt, / ; be, Дзед Мароз, ; uk, Дід Мороз, ; pl, Dziadek Mróz; Russian diminutive russian: Дедушка Мороз, ; sr, / ; bg, Дядо Мраз, ; sl, Dedek Mraz; sk, D ...

Ded Moroz
*
Snegurochka up''Snow Maiden'' (1899) by Victor Vasnetsov Snegurochka (diminutive) or Snegurka ( rus, Снегу́рочка (diminutive), Снегу́рка, p=sʲnʲɪˈgurətɕkə, snʲɪˈgurkə), or The Snow Maiden, is a character in Russian fairy t ...
* Vetrright


See also

*
Cold wave A cold wave (known in some regions as a cold snap or cold spell) is a weather phenomenon that is distinguished by a cooling of the air. Specifically, as used by the U.S. National Weather Service The National Weather Service (NWS) is an a ...
* Cold-weather warfare * Fimbulwinter *
Global cooling thumb Global cooling was a conjecture, especially during the 1970s, of imminent cooling of the Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's surface is land con ...

Global cooling
*
Global warming Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...

Global warming
* Nuclear winter *
Old Man Winter Old Man Winter is a personification Personification occurs when a thing or abstraction is represented as a person, in literature or art, as an anthropomorphic Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are ...

Old Man Winter
* Pineapple Express * Siberian Express *
Volcanic winter A volcanic winter is a reduction in global temperatures caused by volcanic ash , Chile Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South America South America is a continent A continent is ...
* Winter festivals (list) * Winter City *
Winter Hexagon The Winter Hexagon or Winter Circle/Oval is an asterism appearing to be in the form of a hexagon with vertices at Rigel Rigel, designated β Orionis ( Latinized to Beta Orionis, abbreviated Beta Ori, β Ori), is a blue supergi ...
*
Winter Olympic Games The Winter Olympic Games (french: Jeux olympiques d'hiver) is a major international multi-sport event A multi-sport event is an organized sporting Sporting may refer to: *Sport, recreational games and play *Sporting (neighborhood), in Al ...
*
Winter sport #REDIRECT Winter sports#REDIRECT Winter sports Winter sports or winter activities are competitive sports or non-competitive recreational activities which are played on snow or ice. Most are variations of skiing, ice skating and sledding. Traditi ...
*
Winter War The Winter War,, sv, vinterkriget, rus, Зи́мняя война́, r=Zimnyaya voyna. The names Soviet–Finnish War 1939–1940 (russian: link=no, Сове́тско-финская война́ 1939–1940) and Soviet–Finland War 1939 ...
*
Christmas Christmas is an annual festival commemorating Nativity of Jesus, the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people Observance of Christmas by country, around the world ...

Christmas
*
New Year New Year is the time Time is the continued of and that occurs in an apparently succession from the , through the , into the . It is a component quantity of various s used to events, to compare the duration of events or the interva ...

New Year
*
Valentine's Day Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. It originated as a Christian feast day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine and, throu ...


References


Further reading

*Rosenthal, Norman E. (1998). ''Winter Blues''. New York: The Guilford Press.


External links

* * * * {{Authority control