Summer is finally here – and with temperatures reaching up to 34C earlier this month people are definitely feeling excited about the prospect of a warm summer.
The Met Office has even said that their could even be more heatwaves on the way during July.
People will be particularly looking forward to summer 2022 as summer 2020 and summer 2021 were both disrupted by Covid-19 rules, but this summer season looks as though it will be restriction-free.
So, when exactly did summer start, when will it end, and what weather can we expect during this summer?
Here’s everything you need to know.
When did summer begin?
There are actually two ways of calculating the first day of summer, depending on whether you follow the meteorological or definitions of the seasons.
But, whichever one you follow, both are happening very soon.
Meteorological summer will begin first, beginning on Wednesday 1 June, followed by astronomical summer which will begin on Tuesday 21 June.
What’s the difference between meteorological summer and astronomical summer?
These are the key differences between meteorological summer and astronomical summer, and how the date of each is determined.
The meteorological summer date is the easiest to work out.
It is based on the simple principle that the year is split into four seasons, and that each of these seasons are made up of three full months, as per the Gregorian calendar.
This definition makes it easier to compare seasonal and monthly statistics, and means that every season starts on the same date every year.
This means that every year summer begins on 1 June and lasts until 31 August, with autumn then starting on 1 September.
The astronomical season is less straightforward to work out as it can change every year.
This is because it starts on the date of the summer solstice, which comes later in June but can vary slightly from year on year.
In 2022, the summer solstice falls on Tuesday 21 June, which happens to be the same as last year.
It can, however, occur on any date between 20 and 22 of the month, although 21 June is the most common date for it to occur.
The astronomical summer then lasts until another changeable date, the autumnal equinox – which this year lands on Friday 23 September.
What is the summer solstice?
The summer solstice marks the date of the longest period of daylight and the shortest night of the year.
For this reason, the summer solstice is also known as the longest day.
This occurs when the Earth’s north pole has its maximum tilt towards the sun.
As well as marking the beginning of astronomical summer, the solstice can also be known as midsummer.
This can be confusing, but it is because the days begin to get shorter after it has passed.
What is the autumn equinox?
Equinoxes take their name from the Latin for equal night.
They happen twice a year, at the start of spring and autumn, and mark the moment the Earth’s equator passes directly through the centre of the sun’s path.
On each of these days, the planet should get 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness, although this is complicated somewhat by the Earth’s atmosphere and weather conditions affecting the way we see sunlight.
The autumn equinox can occur at any time between 21 and 24 September, and marks the start of autumn – if you follow the astrological definitions of the seasons.
When will summer end?
There are also two ways of calculating the last day of summer.
According to the metrological measure of the seasons, the last day of summer this year will be Wednesday 31 August, with autumn then starting on Thursday 1 September.
But, the astrological measure of the seasons states that the last day of summer 2022 will be Thursday 22 September, followed by the first day of autumn on Friday 23 September.
What does the long term forecast look like?
The Met Office has also published a three-month outlook for May to July 2022.
The three-month outlook hints that there could be some hope for good weather during the bank holiday weekend, and also the weeks that follow.
The average temperature for this three-month period is around 12C, according to Met Office data taken between 1991 and 2020.
There is a 40% chance that the months of May, June and July will be hotter than average, which is two times higher than the usual chance of hotter weather at this time of year.
It’s more likely, however, that temperatures will be average for the time of year. The Met Office has predicted that there’s a 50% chance we will experience average temperatures.
There’s also a slight reduction in the chance of the period being wet, but only by 0.8%. It’s more likely – 65% to be precise – that the season will have an average amount of rainfall.
According to Met Office data, the average amount of rainfall that falls during this three-month period is around 300mm.
There is a chance that we could get further heatwaves during the remainder of June and July 2022.
But, there could also be heavy rainfall, and even thunder, partly brought about by humid conditions.
A Met Office spokesman said: “There is an increase in the likelihood of warmer-than-average conditions.
“Whilst this doesn’t necessarily mean heatwaves