Widespread freezing temperatures this week

Published: May. 6, 2020 at 9:54 PM EDT
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Spring may have started out warm and early with a mild March – but we're not done with the cold yet.

Even though the average last freeze for most of our area is the end of April (early May for the Potomac Highlands), that doesn't mean we can't see a late season freeze.

This year, it's coming at a bad time when many of the fruit trees and the grapes already have blooms and many home gardeners already planted.

A strong cold front is headed our way Friday. This will bring widespread rain to the area, but much colder air behind it.

As the rain moves out, snow will fall across our Allegheny mountain regions Friday night and into Saturday. So you may wake up to a beautiful view of white topped mountains.

You will also wake up to freezing temperatures.

Both Friday night and Saturday night, the entire area will see near and below freezing temperatures. This will be a late season hard freeze.

Anything new or sensitive should not be in the ground yet. A frost can damage plants, but a freeze will kill them.

We're not exactly looking at a frost. To get a frost, you need calm winds. Winds will remain high Friday night with gusts 20-25 mph. It will also remain rather breezy Saturday night, but if the winds do calm in some spots, then we'll see some areas of frost too.

Another night to keep an eye out for at least some frost would be Monday night.

The cold pattern looks like that should flip by the middle of the month.

Average last frost dates for the Valley are mid-May, between May 15-20th. The average last frost date for our West Virginia locations is at the end of May.

Arlene Reid, with Glenhaven Greenhouse, explained to us before why you want to resist the temptation to plant early, and wait.

"Plants that are planted when the ground is warmer will grow, they take off when the soil finally warms up. The roots do not like to be in cold soil. Plants just don't like cold feet."

"One of the dangers in planting now, is if we have a freeze instead of a frost, there's not much you can do. You can cover or protect plants from a frost, but a freeze gets into the plant and damages it," Reid told us.

What if you want to to take the risk? Reid says if you do that, and the plant gets damaged to the point where you have to buy new ones, that's depleting the supply of that plant for other people.

So what if you've already planted? Pay close attention to the weather forecast, especially for temperatures below 40 degrees and when the skies are clear. You may have to do a little more work in the coming weeks to protect the plants on the cold nights.

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