If someone says “the winter of 1979”, is it 1978-79 or 1979-80?

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Dear Tom,
I’m puzzled over the terminology for designating the winter season vs. what year it is. If someone says “the winter of 1979”, is it 1978-79 or 1979-80?
Thanks, Elmer Perkins,  Brookfield

Dear Elmer,

Meteorologists classify meteorological winter as the three-month period from December-February, spanning portions of two years. Our current winter will be classified as the winter of 2021-22. Snow seasons are similarly identified as they cover portions of two years, but a bit different, as they encompass the entire snow season from the first snow in fall to the last snow in spring. A major snowstorm, such as the city’s 20.3-inch Blizzard of ’79 is identified by the year it actually occurred, which was in 1979 from January 12-14. The only exception might be a major blizzard that occurred on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

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