How Weather & Climate in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres Differs

northern-vs-southern hemisphere wx
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You may think that weather is virtually the same worldwide, but on the contrary, the type of weather you experience is somewhat unique to which part of the world you live in. Events like tornadoes, which are commonplace here in the United States, are a rarity in other countries. Storms we call "hurricanes" are known by another name in the world's far oceans. And perhaps one of the most well known -- which season you're in depends on which hemisphere (which side, north or south, of the equator you're on) -- Northern or Southern -- you live in.

Why do the Northern and Southern Hemispheres see opposite seasons? We'll explore this answer, plus other ways their weather is strikingly different from the other's. 

1. Our Opposite Hemispheres have Opposite Seasons

December may be ... but our neighbors in the Southern Hemisphere rarely ever see snow on Christmas (except in Antarctica) for one simple reason -- December begins their summer season. 

How can this be? The reason why is the same as why we experience seasons at all -- the Earth's tilt.

Our planet doesn't "sit" perfectly upright, but rather, leans 23.5° from its axis (the imaginary vertical line through Earth's center which points toward the North Star). As you may know, this tilt is what gives us the seasons. It also orients the Northern and Southern Hemispheres in opposite directions so that whenever one points its innermost toward the sun, the other aims its most away from the sun.

 Northern HemisphereSouthern Hemisphere
Winter SolsticeDecember 21/22June
Spring EquinoxMarch 20/21September
Summer SolsticeJune 20/21December
Fall EquinoxSeptember 22/23March

 

2. Our Hurricanes and Low Pressure Systems Spin in Opposite Directions

In the Northern Hemisphere, the coriolis force, a which deflects to the right, gives hurricanes their signature counter-clockwise spin.

but spin counter-clockwise. Because Earth rotates to the east, all free-moving objects such as wind, low pressure areas, and hurricanes are deflected to the right of their path of motion in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemi.

There's a misconception that because of the coriolis force, even water in bathrooms spirals clockwise down the drain -- but this isn't true! Toilet water isn't of a large enough scale for the coriolis force so its effects on it are negligible. 

3. Our milder climate

Take a moment to compare a map or globe of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres...what do you notice? That's right! There's more land mass north of the equator and more ocean to its south. And since we know that water warms and cools more slowly than land does, we can guess that the Southern Hemisphere has a milder climate than the Northern Hemisphere,