What Season Are We Really In?

2012-05-09 23:48:04.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist


Growing up, we are taught that there are four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. And most people would associate these seasons with the weather or plant life. In spring, flowers and leafs on trees return and things start getting warmer. Summer is hot and can bring severe weather. Fall bring cooler nights and a change in the foliage color. And winter brings the cold and usually snow or ice. Now, while these all hold true for calendars and educational purposes, depending on where you live, there are several more localized seasons that are a subset to the big four. And having lived in New Hampshire for the past seven years, I have learned a few that make sense to people I talk to locally but if I mention them to my friends out west or down south, you’re usually asked “What’s that?” or are provided with a similar facial expression.

Some of these seasons are as follows: mud season, “meh” season, black fly season, “goofer” season, swimming season, leaf peeper season, ski season, the January thaw, back country ski season, and so on. So what defines each season? Mud season is a subset of spring. In early spring there is snow but as this melts and things warm up, it creates mud. And I thought I knew mud as a kid in California, but New Hampshire’s mud season has to be experienced to be believed. After the mud season tapers off, meh season takes over. It’s that period in spring where it’s not really warm enough to do summer stuff nor is it cold enough to do winter stuff. It’s just “Meh!” Then, as things warm up, the black flies hatch, starting that season. Now, I’ve heard the state has somewhere near 40 species of flies. While most are just the annoying type that swarm you when outside, there is a handful that bite; the kind of bites that leave welts and bruises. You would think bug spray would help, but it doesn’t. When you go out during this season, you have to be prepared to look like you got in a street fight. Most days on the summit, we don’t have to worry much about this season. But like Rebecca mentioned earlier this week, on certain days, they swarm upslope and attack. Not a fun season at all.

“Goofer” season is kind of a rolling season but it peaks in summer. This is when the mountain communities are swarmed by…let’s say, severely underprepared individuals. If you’re “hiking” in flip flops, you’re a “goofer”. If all you have is a 20oz bottle of water for an 8 mile hike, you’re a “goofer”. If you ask one of us where to hike to to see the president’s faces (no joke, this is common), you’re a “goofer”. And while most just provide us with good dinner conversations; some are so unprepared that they need rescuing. Luckily, the rescuing subset is a small group. So, now that you are aware of this term, try not to be one. As summer starts to end, swimming season lasts for about the month of August. This is the one month span that allows for swimming comfortably in most watering holes. Some holes have a longer period, but where I live up north, it’s one month. Then comes leaf peeper season where you give yourself more time to get around because inevitably you’ll get stuck behind the one car going 25mph in a 55 mph zone with no passing allowed. Fun times! This is followed by another meh season as the leaves are gone and there isn’t any snow on the ground. But once it does snow, skiing (and winter activity) starts and usually continues through winter. January thaw (or sometimes February) is a warm period where it feels like spring in the middle of winter. I usually like this short span. Then as winter draws to a close, back country skiing peaks with perfect corn conditions and mostly stabilized slopes that are melting leading back into mud season…

While I’m sure there are several other seasons I could talk about, these are the key ones around here I have learned over my years out here. And I’m sure I will learn more as time goes on. And in case you are wondering what season we are in, I would say it’s going to be meh (whoa, kind of sound like an N’sync song that I remember the top 40 stations used to play; but I digress). The weather is mild, not too warm, not too cold. The trees are generally bare but are finally getting their neon green and flowers are starting to sprout again. The sedge is a mix of browns and green. And the weather is non-descript. There’s just nothing significant to report per say. But, luckily this season is a short one, and with the summit getting ready to open again, it will quickly be replaced by all the ups and downs that summer and it’s “sub-seasons” bring. Now we just have to wait it out and play the waiting game…


Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

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