Average first frost/freeze period nears

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – We have officially entered into fall, and the month of October, the period where temperatures start to make the turn downward.  This is also the month where many of us start to see our first frost or freeze.

I took this picture above last year, and put the date on, because I wanted to make sure I remembered next year (now) when we had our first frost last season.  I also took a picture of my thermometer, which read a morning low of 34°.

 

It is important to note, the first frost and freeze are not the same thing.  So why can we have frost above 32°?

On generally clear nights, with no wind and a cooler airmass in place this time of the year, it makes for ideal conditions for cooling.  As we know from taking a hot shower, the warm/moist air is lighter than the cold/dry air, and it will rise.  The heavier cold air will sink down to the near the ground.  Weather instruments for official reporting are taken approximately 5 feet above the ground.

So on a cold night, the official temperature for a location might read as warm as 35° or 36°, yet there will be frost on the ground below where the temperature is at or below freezing (32°).

It is also important to note, that we can have a freeze without a frost in dry conditions.

 

When do we normally see our first freeze?

This is something we keep track of for several reporting cities in our area, and the short answer is, it depends.  But in general most cities see their first freeze in the month of October.

According to the National Weather Service in Wilmington, our average first freeze date in Columbus is one of the latest in Central and southern Ohio (October 27th).

The NWS has listed some of our other cities that they have data for, and their first freeze dates:

Bellefontaine 14-Oct
Chillicothe 17-Oct
Circleville 19-Oct
Delaware 14-Oct
Kenton 20-Oct
London 9-Oct
Marysville 22-Oct
Newark 12-Oct
Washington Court House 21-Oct

 

While the normal for first freeze dates in Columbus is October 27th, we have had a wide range of dates:

The earliest have been in late September, and the latest dates (like last year) well into November.  Last year marked only the 2nd time that we had our first freeze date on November 10th.  In fact, there were only 10 years were the 1st freeze were later than we had last year.

 

Are we expecting a frost or freeze anytime soon here in Central Ohio?

No, not in the next week!  We are going to continue to stay quite warm over the next week.  We have a cold front that will arrive late Sunday into Monday morning.  But this front is only going to bring temperatures back to normal.  This means highs in the mid/upper 60s and lows in the lower to middle 40s.   Hardly frost range.

Also, below is the 6-10 day outlook from the Climate Prediction Center at NOAA.  It shows very good chances that temperatures will remain above normal during this period.

The 8-14 day outlook from the Climate Prediction Center at NOAA does not show much chance for below normal temperatures either.

If this outlook does hold, it means most locations in Central Ohio will be past their average first freeze date.  At this point it is way too soon to say if we are going to see record late dates, and in fact, we would have to get past Thanksgiving to do so.

How long will frost/freeze warnings be issued?

The National Weather Service offices are the ones that issue these warnings, and they are mainly for agricultural interests.  In general the NWS will issues these warnings either until a county has had a widespread hard freeze, or a specific date has been reached.  For most areas that date in November 1st, but there are a few counties from Franklin county down south along US-23 and the southern part of the state that warnings can be issued until the end of the first week of November.

 

Here is a complete list since 1878 of all the first freeze dates for Columbus:

year month date
2016 nov 10
2015 oct 17
2014 nov 2
2013 oct 25
2012 oct 11
2011 oct 29
2010 oct 30
2009 oct 18
2008 oct 22
2007 nov 23
2006 oct 15
2005 oct 29
2004 nov 9
2003 oct 3
2002 nov 1
2001 oct 18
2000 oct 29
1999 oct 25
1998 oct 23
1997 oct 21
1996 nov 2
1995 oct 17
1994 oct 28
1993 oct 23
1992 oct 17
1991 oct 16
1990 oct 26
1989 oct 9
1988 oct 6
1987 oct 4
1986 nov 3
1985 nov 8
1984 nov 2
1983 oct 27
1982 oct 17
1981 oct 3
1980 oct 6
1979 oct 14
1978 oct 17
1977 oct 16
1976 oct 17
1975 oct 3
1974 oct 2
1973 nov 4
1972 oct 19
1971 nov 4
1970 oct 16
1969 oct 15
1968 oct 5
1967 oct 20
1966 oct 21
1965 oct 5
1964 oct 6
1963 sep 30
1962 sep 21
1961 sep 29
1960 oct 21
1959 oct 18
1958 oct 29
1957 oct 20
1956 nov 13
1955 oct 25
1954 oct 20
1953 oct 30
1952 oct 4
1951 oct 9
1950 oct 26
1949 oct 27
1948 oct 18
1947 nov 9
1946 nov 18
1945 nov 3
1944 nov 5
1943 nov 4
1942 oct 26
1941 nov 9
1940 nov 7
1939 oct 15
1938 oct 31
1937 oct 14
1936 oct 27
1935 oct 7
1934 oct 28
1933 oct 26
1932 nov 11
1931 nov 6
1930 oct 19
1929 nov 5
1928 oct 30
1927 nov 5
1926 oct 25
1925 oct 10
1924 oct 23
1923 oct 23
1922 nov 10
1921 nov 3
1920 oct 30
1919 nov 5
1918 nov 2
1917 oct 20
1916 nov 14
1915 nov 15
1914 oct 26
1913 oct 21
1912 nov 1
1911 oct 28
1910 oct 28
1909 oct 12
1908 oct 2
1907 oct 21
1906 oct 10
1905 oct 30
1904 oct 28
1903 oct 24
1902 nov 27
1901 oct 18
1900 nov 8
1899 oct 1
1898 oct 27
1897 nov 12
1896 oct 19
1895 oct 10
1894 oct 15
1893 oct 29
1892 oct 6
1891 oct 23
1890 nov 1
1889 oct 7
1888 sep 30
1887 oct 12
1886 oct 2
1885 oct 9
1884 oct 24
1883 nov 3
1882 nov 13
1881 nov 15
1880 oct 18
1879 oct 25
1878 oct 28

 

If you have questions about frosts/freezes, cold temps, climate, or any other weather questions, email me, dmazza@wcmh.com

-Dave

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