Fall frost, freeze climatology for southeast North Carolina - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Fall frost, freeze climatology for southeast North Carolina

Average first fall frosts and freezes for the lower Cape Fear region. (Source: WECT) Average first fall frosts and freezes for the lower Cape Fear region. (Source: WECT)
As the days get shorter, our temperatures will continue to cool through the latter half of the month of November to an average in the middle 60s after starting the season in the lower 80s. (Source: WECT) As the days get shorter, our temperatures will continue to cool through the latter half of the month of November to an average in the middle 60s after starting the season in the lower 80s. (Source: WECT)

Fall officially begins at 4:21 a.m. September 23rd; with the transition into the new season, days by the beach go by the wayside, the air becomes more and more crisp and cooler days are ahead as our available daylight hours dwindle. 

As we lose day length, temperatures in southeast North Carolina can fluctuate greatly during this transition season. Highs during the first portion of the fall season typically are in the lower 80s, but by Thanksgiving, highs typically slide into the middle 60s. Overnight lows also from the 60s early in fall season to the 40s by the end of November. 

During fall, we become more susceptible to large-scale systems that are more dynamic, bringing strong cold fronts into the area. Though our average lows by the end of November are in the 40s, these strong cold fronts can bring freezing temperatures as early as mid-October to the lower Cape Fear region. 

By definition; a frost is when ice crystal form on plants and objects. This can occur with temperatures several degrees above freezing; usually, during a period of light winds and clear skies. Sensitive outdoor plants may be damaged when a frost occurs. A freeze is when temperatures dip below 32° for at least 3 consecutive hours. A hard freeze is when temperatures drop below 28° for at least 3 consecutive hours. A frost may or may not occurs in "freeze" situations. Plants may be killed when a freeze occurs; plants will likely be killed if prevention measures are not taken when a hard freeze occurs. 

Many areas will receive their first frost before the end of month of October and their first freeze by the end of the November. 

Here are some of our local average (based on 1951-2010 data) first fall freeze and frost in southeast North Carolina: 

              CITIES                        FIRST FROST             FIRST FREEZE

WILMINGTONOCTOBER 19NOVEMBER 14
SHALLOTTEOCTOBER 19NOVEMBER 1
WHITEVILLEOCTOBER 14NOVEMBER 1
ELIZABETHTOWNOCTOBER 16NOVEMBER 2
BURGAWOCTOBER 19NOVEMBER 4
LUMBERTONOCTOBER 9OCTOBER 31


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