(WGHP) — This time of year, many of us get spring fever and get excited about working in our gardens and planting flowers after a few 70- and even 80-degree days. Then, weeks later, worry that our work may be killed by a freeze or frost.
Typically, our last freeze is done in the Triad by April 1. Colder rural areas can run a week or two later. There are many statistics available for freezes. There are not good stats available for frost.
We often get frost on nights when the temperature does not even drop to 32. There is no magical number either. Factors like wind and terrain contribute. Most meteorologists agree that an air temperature of 36 is often the cutoff for frost. That is because cold air is heavier and sinks, and it can be 32 just 5 feet below the sensor. If there is just enough moisture in the air, it will freeze on surfaces that reach 32 even when the air a few feet above is in the mid-30s.
Our 30-year average date (1993-2022) for the last freeze is April 1. Our last frost based on 36° at 5 feet is April 15 (Think of traditional tax day. This year it is April 18). In the most recent 30 years, our latest freeze was April 22, 2021. In our history, counting all records back to 1903, our latest freeze was May 8, 1989. Our latest frost ever was May 20, 2020. So there can always be extremes and a late surprise. Interestingly, the latest cold snaps have been in recent years.
To help with those surprises, I have also provided a graphic showing the odds for a Late Freeze. These odds drop quickly in April. I personally always go by April 15. Once the chance for a freeze drops to 30%, I feel pretty good.
Happy planting and growing this year.