Country Traditions

September 28, 2010

How to Predict a Frost

Ice Iris

Image via Wikipedia

  • How warm was it during the day? If the temperature reached 75 degrees F (in the East or North) or 80 degrees F (in the desert Southwest), the chance of the mercury falling below 32 degrees is slim.
  • Is it windy? A still night allows cold air to pool near the ground; a breeze keeps things stirred up.
  • Is it cloudy? If the Sun sets through a layer of thickening clouds, the clouds will slow radiational cooling and help stave off a frost.
  • What is the dew point? As a rule of thumb, don’t worry about a frost if the dew point (the temperature at which water vapor condenses) is above 45 degrees on the evening weather report.
  • How is your garden sited? Gardens on slopes or high ground often survive when the coldest air puddles down in the valleys and hollows.

See frost dates for your area. Click here for the U.S. Frost Chart and for the Canadian Frost Chart on Almanac.com.

Better Safe Than Sorry

If you’re a gardener, here are few tips on preparing for frost.

  • When nights get cold, protect tomato, eggplant, and pepper plants with old sheets, paper bags, or plastic at night and remove the coverings in the morning.
  • Bring geraniums indoors before the first frost arrives. Keep them in a sunny window in a relatively moist room; the kitchen is often best.
  • Harvest basil and other tender herbs before a frost. Even if they survive the frost, they don’t do well in cold temperatures. The same is true for summer squash, peppers, and most annuals.
  • Harvest all tomatoes and let them ripen indoors on tabletops or counters out of the sun.
  • http://www.almanac.com/content/blog-how-predict-frost
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