Tracking the first freeze of fall 2017 - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Tracking the first freeze of fall 2017

New data suggest the first freeze date is taking longer to arrive New data suggest the first freeze date is taking longer to arrive

We've endured a couple of cold mornings this week but it hasn't been cold enough to get our first frost of the season, a temperature of 32 degrees or lower.  However it won't be much longer or will it?  New data is indicating the first frost of the season is taking longer to arrive.  

After a warmer than average start to September, warmer falls are becoming a trend across the U.S., with the first freeze of the season arriving later than before for many parts of the country including the Mid-South. The first freeze is coming a full month (31 days) later in Boise, Idaho, 27 days later in Las Vegas, Nevada, and 24 days later in Tupelo, Mississippi.

With warmer temperatures lasting longer, new data from the EPA is showing the growing season is now nearly two weeks longer on average across the U.S. compared to the beginning of the 20th century. While this may delight warm-weather lovers, warmer overnight temperatures can reduce productivity and quality of grains and fruits, which might increase their costs at the supermarket.

Warmer average temperatures lead to an increase in the frequency of extreme temperatures, which can shift the geographical areas where certain crops have historically grown best, potentially causing problems for farmers. Warmer temperatures could also prevent necessary plant-pollinator interactions from occurring, due to the potential shift in ecological cues, which would affect the delicate balance between species.

Going longer without a frost also means that more pests survive into the winter to damage or destroy crops.  An extended frost-free season also means a longer allergy season as well as a longer season for mosquitoes and ticks potentially creating public health problems. 

According to the National Weather Service Office the 30-year average first frost date in Memphis is November 2, but new data is indicating the first frost taking place almost 10 days later. 

There are extremes as well with the earliest frost on record in Memphis taking place September 29, 1942 and the latest frost on December 1, 1931. 

It is quite possible that we will experience our first frost on or near the average date, but don't be surprised if we have to wait just a little longer this year.  

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