When you look at historical freeze data (32 degrees or lower), there is a tremendous variation from year-to-year and between any given location in south central Nebraska and north central Kansas. Last year, the fall of 2007 saw a delayed first freeze as October was wet for many areas. With the exception of the far northern parts of south central Nebraska (Greeley on 10/12/07), the first freeze didn't happen until the last 10 days of October, which was about three weeks behind schedule. 

Looking back for several decades, or even to the turn of the century, there is about a two month gap between the earliest and latest  freezes on record. One of the earliest freeze dates on record occurred the first week of September in 1974, as many locations in south central Nebraska and north central  Kansas dropped below the freezing mark on September 3rd. A weather map (far left thumbnail image) from September 3, 1974 depicted just why such cold temperatures were observed. An unseasonably cold airmass roared into the region behind a strong cold front. Eventually, surface high pressure set up over the region, creating an ideal situation for a record early freeze. In fact, note the hand written comment "Record early damaging frosts, corn belt area" at the top of the weather map. Cooperative Observation forms for Gothenburg and Greeley, Nebraska are also shown. The Gothenburg observer noted "Clear. Froze. Ice. Crop Damage" on the right side of the form on the 3rd. Finally, it is interesting to note both Gothenburg and Greeley recorded freezing temperatures again just ten days later on September 13, 1974. 

 

September 3, 1974 Weather Map

(click to enlarge)

Gothenburg, NE Observation Form

September 1974

Greeley, NE Observation Form

September 1974

The following is more information regarding frost and freezing conditions in south central Nebraska and north central Kansas.

Frost occurs when there is a solid deposition of water vapor from the air. Frost will form when solid surfaces are cooled below the dew point. An air temperature range of 33 to 36 degrees is needed for frost formation. Minor damage is possible to some plants.  A good portion of south central Nebraska had frosty conditions the morning of September 15, especially in low lying areas.

A Freeze occurs when the air temperature drops to 32 degrees. A freeze will result in significant damage to many unprotected plants, especially if the temperature remains at the freezing mark for a few hours. A few locations in south central Nebraska dropped to 32 degrees on September 15th, including parts of the Platte, Loup and upper Republican River valleys.  Such cold temperatures were about 2 to 3 weeks ahead of normal based upon an average 30-year freeze date. 

A Hard Freeze occurs when the air temperature reaches 28 degrees. The growing season is considered to have all but ended when the temperatures drops to 28 degrees.  The range of dates for a hard freeze is from the 1st through the 3rd week of October (on average) for south central Nebraska and north central Kansas.

 

Fall Freeze Information for South Central Nebraska

(30-year average 1978-2007)

Location Average Date of 36 Degrees Average Date of 32 Degrees Average Date of 28 Degrees 2007 First Fall Freeze (32 degrees or lower) Earliest Freeze on Record Latest Freeze on Record
Cambridge  Sept. 25  Oct. 3  Oct. 15  Oct. 23 Sept 3, 1974
 Oct. 28, 1963
Genoa  Sept. 24  Oct. 2  Oct. 8  Oct. 23 Sept 3, 1974
Oct. 29, 1973
Gothenburg  Sept. 25  Sept. 30  Oct. 11  Oct. 22 Sept. 3, 1974
Oct. 28, 1963
Grand Island  Sept. 28  Oct. 8  Oct. 15  Oct. 26 Sept. 12, 1902
 Nov. 3, 1944
Greeley  Sept. 20  Sept. 27  Oct. 7  Oct. 12  Sept. 3, 1974
 Oct. 29, 1963
Hastings  Sept. 29  Oct. 9  Oct. 20  Oct. 26 Sept. 20, 1983 and 1991
Nov. 5, 1947
Hebron  Sept. 30  Oct. 11  Oct. 21
 Oct. 26 Sept. 11, 1940
Nov. 1 in 1927 and 1931
Holdrege  Oct. 2  Oct. 10  Oct. 21  Oct. 27 Sept. 11, 1902
Nov. 5, 1940
Kearney  Sept. 26  Oct. 5  Oct. 15  Oct. 23  Sept. 13, 1974
Nov. 5, 1947
York  Oct. 4  Oct. 11  Oct. 22  Nov. 1 Sept. 11, 1940
Nov. 4, 1998

 

Fall Freeze Information for North Central Kansas

(30-year average 1978-2007)

Location Average Date of 36 Degrees Average Date of 32 Degrees Average Date of 28 Degrees 2007 First Fall Freeze (32 degrees or lower) Earliest Freeze on Record Latest Freeze on Record
Alton

 Sept. 26

 Oct. 3

 Oct. 14

 Oct. 23

Sept 3, 1974

 Oct. 28, 1963

Beloit

 Oct. 4

 Oct. 16

 Oct. 26

 Oct. 23

Sept 3, 1974

Oct. 29, 1973

Plainville

 Oct. 7

 Oct. 16

 Oct. 27

 Nov. 1

Sept. 3, 1974

Oct. 28, 1963

Smith Center

 Oct. 2

 Oct. 12

 Oct. 20

 Oct. 23

Sept. 12, 1902

 Nov. 3, 1944

 

 Annual First Fall Freeze Dates for Kansas (courtesy the Kansas State Climatologist)

 

 

 


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