Autumn falls officially this morning when the autumnal equinox signals that leaves should start changing soon, and it’s OK to drink pumpkin-flavored coffee.
The fall equinox is the astronomical start of the fall season in the Northern Hemisphere when the hours of day and night match. During the equinox, the Sun crosses the “celestial equator” — an imaginary extension of Earth’s equator line into space. It occurs precisely when the Sun’s center passes through this line, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Today, that is at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
If that is the traditional definition, many of the things that define fall in the Annapolis area are canceled.
No boat shows. No seafood fest. No high school football. No Brigade of Midshipmen marching to a Saturday game.
There are still things to do if you look hard enough: Corn mazes, pumpkin patches and sailboat visits.
The National Weather Service predicts this morning will feel like fall, with temperatures only about 55 degrees at the moment of the equinox. But the first week of fall looks a bit warmer.
It is time to unpack those sweaters and knit hats.
The National Climate Prediction Center forecasts that September’s average temperature is expected to be 65 degrees, 2 degrees below average. The Almanac says average precipitation for the month will be 6.5 inches, 3 inches more than average.
For October, the average temperature is expected to be 62, 6 degrees above average. The average precipitation for the month is expected to be 3.5 inches, about the norm.
September and October will be warmer and rainier than normal, with a tropical storm threat in early to mid-October, according to the Almanac.
It’s not just the weather that turns, but nature too.
Nothing signals the arrival of fall on the bay more than the osprey.
There are fewer osprey in the skies around the mid-Chesapeake Bay, as some of the seasonal visitors have headed south for the winter.
But residents of a nest on Kent Island, visible on a Chesapeake Conservancy video camera, were still there Monday afternoon.
Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church will hold its annual Blessing of the Animals from 11 a.m. to noon on Oct. 4, with one adjustment for the virus. This year will be a drive-thru service.
If leaf watching is what means fall to you, the peak colors here are about a month away.
Smokeymountains.com, a website dedicated to the Smokey Mountains, offers an online prediction tool for observing the colors of fall foliage.
Much of Central Maryland, including Anne Arundel County, is set to hit peak colorful leaves the week of Oct. 26.
Fall is a peak time for boats on the Chesapeake Bay.
With no fall boat shows, six Annapolis boat dealers are running mini-shows of their own this weekend, more like all-day open houses.
Walk the Docks In Annapolis starts Thursday and runs through Sunday, with appointments available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Visit walkthedocksannapolis.com for details.
And if you just want to look, two notable sailboats open to free tours will be at City Dock in the weeks ahead, visits coordinated by the Annapolis Waterfront & Sailing Center.
The Lynx, a 21st-century replica clipper ship modeled on one built in 1812, will return to Annapolis from its homeport in Nantucket from Oct. 6 to Nov 1.
When & If, commissioned by Gen. George Patton in 1939, will dock Oct. 15 to Nov 1.
Both boats will be docked at the end of Prince George Street.
Away from the water, many fall festivals and agri-tourism events have been canceled, but Harry Potter is out in Gambrills.
The Maryland Corn Maze opened Saturday with the boy wizard carved out of a cornfield. The eight-acre maze has been a feature of fall since 2006, and this year is adding temperature checks, admission times through tickets purchased in advance, social distancing rules and masks requirements.
The Morning Sun
For details, visit mdcornmaze.com
And the annual Lighthouse Shelter Pumpkin Patch, which raises funds for the homeless shelter program, opens Oct. 3. The event is put on every year by Friends of the Light House at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church in Annapolis.
It runs through the end of the month, with hours every weekend. Weekday hours start Oct. 12. Visit friendslhs.org/pumpkin-patch for details.
The next question: Can trick-or-treating survive the coronavirus?
The Anne Arundel County Department of Health is preparing Halloween Safety Tips, said Elin Jones, a department spokesperson.
Rick Hutzell contributed to this story.