Last week, we were all reminded that fall is here, and winter is not too far off! As well as the snow that fell, we also had our first frost warning for Barton County of the season. This brings up the question, “What’s the difference between a frost warning, a freeze warning and a hard freeze warning?” I looked up a little information on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and this is their official definition.
Frost: The deposition of ice crystals directly on the surface of exposed objects. In the right conditions (clear skies, winds less than 6 mph) frost can occur when observed air temperatures are several degrees above freezing.
Freeze: When observed air temperatures fall to 32 F or lower.
Killing Freeze: When observed air temperatures fall to 30 F or lower for at least two consecutive hours.
Many plants can survive a brief frost, but very few can survive a hard freeze.
Note: In general, Frost Advisories are issued when minimum temperatures of 32-35 F are expected for several hours. Under these conditions, frost can form on the leaves of vegetation and adversely affect the health of that plant.
In general, Freeze Warnings are issued when minimum temperatures around 30 F (or lower) are expected for several hours. Under these conditions, freezing temperatures can kill all but the hardiest herbaceous plants.
At the Great Bend Reporting station, the temperature on early Saturday morning fluctuated between 34 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit for about four hours. When it did get down to the 30 degree mark, it did not stay there for long, so damage is hopefully minimal. Moisture also will help insulate plants, so the snow did help a little to keep the plants alive. This is just a sign of what it to come though. The average date for the first freeze in Great Bend is October 21st, so if you still have plants outside that are sensitive, now is the time to bring them indoors, or let them die outside.
One more quick note, the annual Extension Counsel elections are going to be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, October 29th. Please stop by the Extension office at 1800 12th street in Great Bend and cast your vote!
Alicia Boor is the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for Barton County K-State Research and Extension. You can contact her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 620-793-1910