Seasonal Weather: Definition & Types

Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has taught high school and college biology and has a master's degree in cancer biology.

Typical seasonal weather patterns vary from one place to another. There are some weather phenomena that only occur in specific seasons and others that are more prone in certain seasons. This lesson will look at the various types of seasonal weather.


There are many ways to know the year is progressing. One of the key things that tell us the year is moving from one season to another is the weather, or atmospheric conditions. The weather is different from one season to another and there are certain things that we come to expect during each season. For example, you probably have yet to pack up for a summer day on the beach when you were expecting snow. You also have not likely decided to wear shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of winter.

One of the most interesting things about seasonal weather is that it is very dependent on your location. Winter in a city like Phoenix, AZ which is considered freezing cold at 60 degrees varies greatly from winter in Boston, MA where there may be a foot or more of snow at below zero temperatures. The same is true for a different season like summer. The temperature getting above 100 degrees for two months straight is normal for Phoenix, but would be crazy for Boston.

Winter Weather

Most of us expect colder temperatures during winter months. Some of us expect more than just colder temperatures. There is weather that generally occurs only during the winter season. One such winter weather event is a winter storm. These storms can contain sleet, freezing rain, and/or snow. Sleet is when ice falls from the sky. By contrast freezing rain is when rain falls from the sky but freezes once it comes in contact with the ground or other surface. Snow is water that freezes into crystallized ice while falling through different temperatures in the atmosphere.

Blizzard in Washington, DC in Dec. 2009
Picture of a blizzard

There are times when some locations experience extreme winter storms called blizzards. These are storms with heavy snowfall, swirling winds, and extremely cold temperatures with decreased visibility. If you have ever been through a blizzard you know that one of the most frustrating parts is the fact that you cannot see very far ahead of you. Activities like driving become almost impossible.

Spring Weather

Once we have made our way through winter, we are home-free, right? Wrong! Have you ever heard the saying, 'April showers bring May flowers?' That sounds good, but spring brings its own set of typical weather patterns. Many places experience a lot of rainfall and thunderstorms in the spring months. These aren't so bad until they become heavy and severe. Flooding, the build-up of water on the ground, is more prone to occur during spring.

If the rain doesn't get you, the wind just might. Wind in the form of a tornado that is. Tornadoes are violently rotating windstorms that take place over land. Now don't misunderstand, tornadoes can occur during any time of the year, but the vast majority of them occur during spring. Tornadoes can cause anything from minor damage to total devastation. They are definitely a violent weather phenomena.

Tornadoes do not just pop up out of the blue. They are found in conjunction with thunderstorms. You may already know that thunderstorms are rain storms that have lightning and thunder. They can be light or very severe. They also occur anytime during the year, but in higher numbers in the spring.

Summer Weather

The next season is summer during which things get worse and better depending on where you live. The thunderstorms and tornadoes tend to quiet down in many areas of the United States during the middle and later part of summer. Summer tends to bring the hottest temperatures that an area will experience. This may include temperatures between 80 and 95 degrees in the north, 90 and 100 degrees in the southeast, and 100 and 115 degrees in the southwest. When an area experiences several days to weeks with temperatures above the normal high temperature, then they are experiencing a heat wave. The temperature at which a heat wave occurs will depend on the normal high temperatures of that specific area.

Severe thunderstorms are just kicking up in the desert during summer. These severe storms caused by changes in wind direction in the desert are called monsoons. The typical monsoon season starts in June and ends around the beginning of September. That being said, it is not unheard of for monsoons to happen in April or May as well.

Typically, the desert will also experience a haboob, commonly called a dust storm, before a monsoon hits. Haboobs are large clouds of rolling dust developed from a strong downward wind.

Haboob in Phoenix in July 2011
Picture of a haboob in Phoenix

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