Of the 38 plays Shakespeare wrote, three titles are directly associated with seasons or weather.There may be meteorological origins for these titles by taking a quick look at the record of serious weather events in the late 1500s and early 1600s.
The year after a “wet & unseasonable summer – extensive flooding of fields etc., with loss / spoiling of crops across England (1594)”, came the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
According to the website Meteorology at West Moors that notes significant weather in England during the centuries:
1596: “…period of frequent severe gales in Scotland set in and lasted until 16th August: many ships lost on the east coast.”
1607-08: “The ‘Great Winter‘: apparently, trees died due to the severity (and length) of the frost; ships were stranded by ice several miles out into the North Sea … In December, a “deep” frost until mid-month, then a thaw until just before Christmas, then from ~21st December, intense freeze for much of the time until at least mid-January. Ice formed on the Thames in London….The frost lasted overall for some two months…The Firth of Forth is noted as being ‘frozen’ during January 1608 & the River Exe (south of Exeter) also experienced major ice formation by the latter-third of January – at this latter location, damage was caused to a local weir.”
At the very least, the people who attended Shakespeare’s plays certainly remembered the intensity of the storms and the impact that extreme weather had on their daily lives. They did not need an explanation to understand language of weather to interpret the themes in any of Shakespeare’s works.
The same could be said of the sonnets, (1609). Audiences would understand the message in lines 3 and 4 from Sonnet 97…
“What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!What old December’s bareness everywhere!”