Midwest Final Freeze Stats

Posted: April 13, 2016, 9:33 am by cspeciale

It's that time of year again. Landscapers and home gardeners alike are wondering when Mother Nature will unleash her final freeze of the winter season so our sprouting flowers and plants can grow without worry and the growing season can officially begin. As seen in the chart below, the Midwest typically dips down to the freezing mark for the last time in late April with Indianapolis, IN usually the earliest to observe its last first while Rockford, IL is still susceptible to damaging cold until nearly the end of the month. It's important to keep in mind that even if the air temperature is above freezing, clear and calm spring nights could still pose a threat to vulnerable vegetation. If the ground radiates enough energy, temperatures near the surface could fall to freezing, if not a few degrees below. That's why frost develops on plants some mornings, even if overnight lows only fell into the mid 30s.


Of course, the dates above are just an average based on climatology. To gain a better idea of the date range the last freeze can be observed, see the chart below which lists the all-time latest final freeze at each of these major Midwest cities. 

Considering the anomalously warm March the Midwest experienced combined with the rather chilly start to April, spring freezes are especially concerning this year. Many have seen between 5 and 7 nights fall into the 20s in just these two first weeks of the month! Compare that to last year where just 1 to 2 nights were subfreezing during early April. In fact, the recent stretch of chilly days ranks among the top ten coldest starts to April of all-time! What's in store for the rest of the month? Well, the upcoming weather pattern looks to flip us to the warmer end of the spectrum through the end of the month. To find out if the last freeze was observed in April, see next month's newsletter.

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