Dip to freezing unlike devastating cold last year - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Dip to freezing unlike devastating cold last year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A steep drop from balmy weather to freezing temperatures in mid-April was very unlike last year's devastating Easter freeze, observers say.

Any damage from last week's freezing readings would be to fruit crops including peaches and strawberries and, even then, could be more beneficial than harmful.

The Tuesday morning low temperature in the Tri-Cities was 27 degrees. Nashville recorded 31 degrees. There was widespread frost and some rural areas dipped briefly into the mid-20s.

"Those producers make plans for freezing temperatures (during blooming) and would irrigate or use fires," said Tom Womack, spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture. "A light freeze can help by thinning crops and improving what's left."

Any damage to grain would first show up in a federal agricultural statistical report to be released on Monday, Womack said. However a wet early spring has delayed much planting, particularly of corn, and most row crops have not emerged.

On April 6-9, 2007, temperatures plunged, producing a hard freeze statewide over the Easter weekend.

To make matters worse, the extremely cold weather followed a mild, dry March, killing many tender crops and forcing replanting.

Gov. Phil Bredesen asked the U.S. Agriculture Department to declare all 95 Tennessee counties as federal agricultural disaster areas.

"It went from warmer than normal to colder than normal very fast," said Larry Vannozzi, a forecaster with the National Weather Service office in Nashville. He also pointed out temperatures were in the 20s for more than one night and followed days in which some spots had reached the 80s.

The deep freeze also killed not only fruit and ornamental blooms, but withered young leaves on hardwoods, creating a surreal wooded landscape that looked more like deep autumn, until trees regenerated their leaves.

The April cold snap this year wasn't all that unusual.

The average last spring freeze in Nashville is April 6, based on historic weather records.

Looking back at this April's cold snap, Vannozzi opined, "This was probably our last brush with freezing weather for this spring."

The forecaster noted the Weather Service Climate Prediction Center expects warmer than usual weather through the end of the month.


(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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