When is the spring equinox?

The vernal equinox happens when the sun crosses the Earth's equator line

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Sunday marks the astronomical first day of spring around the Northern Hemisphere. 

Spring equinox occurs when the sun crosses the Earth's equator line. 

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According to EarthSky, this will occur at 11:33 a.m. EDT, or 15:33 UTC.

The website highlights that, during the vernal equinox, the sun rises due East and sets due West. This is the case everywhere except for the poles.

February 17, 2019, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Fellbach: A bee sits on the flower of a crocus in sunshine and spring-like temperatures. 

February 17, 2019, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Fellbach: A bee sits on the flower of a crocus in sunshine and spring-like temperatures.  (Photo by Christoph Schmidt/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The Old Farmer's Almanac explains that the Northern Hemisphere begins to tilt more towards the sun after this date, resulting in warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours.

In the Southern Hemisphere, however, the equinox signals the start of autumn.

The publication explained that the word equinox comes from the Latin words for "equal night," and that the spring equinox falls on March 19, 20 or 21 every year.

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However, meteorologists and climatologists consider March 1 the beginning of spring.

While astronomical seasons are based on the Earth's position relative to the sun, "climatological" or "meteorological" seasons are divided into three-month periods based on the temperatures that would be expected during each season.

The transition seasons are the three months in between winter and summer, so climatological spring is March 1 to May 31 and climatological fall is Sept. 1 to Nov. 30.

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) predict that most of the U.S. will see above-average temperatures this season. 

In addition, forecasters predict prolonged and persistent drought in the West – where below-average precipitation is most likely – for the second consecutive year.

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"Severe to exceptional drought has persisted in some areas of the West since the summer of 2020 and drought has expanded to the southern Plains and Lower Mississippi Valley," Jon Gottschalck, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center Operational Prediction Branch chief, said in a statement. "With nearly 60% of the continental U.S. experiencing minor to exceptional drought conditions, this is the largest drought coverage we’ve seen in the U.S. since 2013."

Below-average temperatures are most likely in the Pacific Northwest and southeast Alaska.