Spring 2014 Frost/Freeze Info... Including Average Dates of Last Frost/Freeze (Updated May 1)

The late-April through mid-May time frame typically features the last occurrence of spring freezing temperatures and/or frost in South Central Nebraska and North Central Kansas...(Click HERE for a map of the 30-county NWS Hastings County Warning Area). Based on 30-year averages, the date of the average last spring freeze (32° or colder) ranges from around April 18 in far southeast locations such as Beloit KS, around April 22-24 in central locations such as Grand Island and Hastings, and around May 4 in far northern and western sites such as Greeley and Cambridge (see graphics below for a visual representation). 

Please note: There is often tremendous variation from year-to-year and between any given location across the area regarding the last spring frost/freeze. As evidence of this, we have seen two very different trends the past 2 springs: In 2012, parts of the area saw one of its earliest last spring freezes on record during the first half of March, while last year in 2013 most places did not observe their last freeze until the May 3-6 time frame.
Below is a wealth of information regarding the upcoming last spring freeze, primarily consisting of graphics and tables that illustrate the average date of the last spring frost, freeze and hard freeze:

- **Spring 2014 Frost/Freeze Forecast Update (as of May 1st)**: We are now down to ONE MORE NIGHT OF OF POSSIBLE SUB-FREEZING TEMPERATURES AND/OR PATCHY FROST FORMATION this week, before overnight temperatures began a steady increase through the next several days, keeping any risk of frost/freeze to nearly "zero" through at least May 8th. As for late tonight/Friday morning, most of the NWS Hastings coverage area is forecast to see overnight lows drop somewhere between 31-35°. A Freeze Watch has already been issued for some counties tonight, and additional adjustments in these "headlines" are likely today, so stay tuned to the latest forecasts. In summary: Although a Hard Freeze of 28° IS NOT forecast for tonight, those folks with sensitive vegetation interests may want to take at least limited precautionary measures in case patchy frost forms, and/or temperatures drop slightly below 32° in some areas. As for whether tonight is in fact the last "frost/freeze risk" of spring 2014, it's certainly looking more and more likely that it will be, but given that freezes have occurrred as late as mid-late May at least once during the past 30 years, it's still too soon to say with 100% certainty. 


**IF NECESSARY, NWS HASTINGS WILL START ISSUE FROST ADVISORIES OR FREEZE WARNINGS AFTER MAY 1ST **


Before continuing, here are a few definitions:

- 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 of at least 33-36° along with very light winds are usually needed to initiate frost formation. Minor damage is possible to some plants. One must keep in mind that a frost is not guaranteed at these temperatures if moisture in the air is lacking and/or winds are breezy. The range of average dates for the last occurrence of spring frost across south central Nebraska and north central Kansas is between April 30 - May 14.

- Freeze occurs when the air temperature drops to 32° or lower. A freeze will result in significant damage to many unprotected plants, especially if the temperature remains at the freezing mark for a few hours
. The range of average dates for the last freeze of the spring across south central Nebraska and north central Kansas is between
April 18 - May 4.


- Hard Freeze occurs when the temperature reaches 28° or lower for at least a few hours. It usually means that many types of plants and most seasonal vegetation will be destroyed. The range of average dates for the last hard freeze of the spring across south central Nebraska and north central Kansas is between April 7 - April 27.

 

The Midwestern Regional Climate Center produces maps that update DAILY, depicting the most recent date that sites across the region fall to at least 32 or 28 degrees this spring.
  Check out statewide maps of Kansas and Nebraska by clicking on the images below. Again, these maps automatically update daily, and originate from the
Midwest Climate Watch Website.
 

(Click images to enlarge)

KS: most recent occurrence of 32 degrees or below this spring

NE: most recent occurrence of 32 degrees or below this spring

 

KS: most recent occurrence of 28 degrees or below this spring

NE: most recent occurrence of 28 degrees or below this spring

 


 

Detailed Frost/Freeze Table and Climatological Maps:

Below is a table and set of maps, primarily focused on average dates for the last occurrence of particular frost/freeze thresholds in the spring. However, please keep in mind there is sometimes tremendous variation from year-to-year and between any given location across the area. Regarding the table, here are some things to consider:

- The first column lists 9 chosen locations in south central Nebraska and 4 in north central Kansas with long histories of being NWS Cooperative Observer sites (except for Grand Island and Hastings airports, which are automated systems). This is just a small sampling of dozens of observing locations within the NWS Hastings coverage area, and these sites are generally organized from north to south down the column. Click HERE for a map of the 30-county NWS Hastings County Warning Area.

- The second column shows the average date of the latest observance of 28, 32, and 36 degree temperatures during the 30-year period from 1984-2013. Please note that differences in average freeze dates between these locations are NOT purely a function of "north versus south", but also depend on a variety of factors including local terrain. For example, Alton, KS, in Osborne County is typically prone to later freezes in the spring than some locations farther north, thanks to efficient cold air drainage along the South Fork Solomon River valley.

- The third and fourth columns reveal the earliest last freeze date and latest freeze date (32° or colder) observed during the past 30 years, covering the period 1984-2013. It is readily apparent that the phrase "average freeze date" is quite relative, as most sites have a 5-7 week difference between the earliest and latest dates. For some of these locations, the incredibly early last freeze of spring 2012 between March 9th-11th was among the earliest on record. On the opposite spectrum, for many locations, the latest freeze during the past 30 years waited until May 13-29. 

- The final column on the right reveals the date that 28, 32 and 36-degree thresholds are LAST met THIS SPRING within the area. A blue-shaded date indicates that a location met one of these temperature thresholds at least 7 days later than the average date, while red-shaded dates indicates that this threshold was last met at least 7 days earlier than the average date. The "?" next to a date means that it's still possible these thresholds could be met again this spring, and thus the date is not necessarily "final".


 Climatological Spring Freeze Data For South Central Nebraska and North Central Kansas
(average dates based on 30-year observations from 1984-2013)

 

Average Last
Date of...

28 Degrees
32 Degrees
36 Degrees

Earliest Last Date
1984-2013 of...

32°
or Colder

Latest Date
1984-2013 of...

32°
or Colder

Latest Spring 2014
Occurence of...

28° or less
32° or less
36° or less

Greeley

April 27
May 4
May 14

April 16, 2007

May 19, 2000

April 18 (24°)?
April 23 (32°)?
?

Osceola

April 12
April 25
May 3

March 31, 1991

May 14, 2004

April 16 (22°)?
April 17 (29°)?
?

Kearney Airport
(NWS Observer)

April 19
April 30
May 9

April 10, 2003

May 28, 1992

April 17 (28°)?
April 18 (29°)?
?

Grand Island
(Airport)

April 12
April 24
May 4

April 5, 1984

May 13, 1997

April 15 (24°)?
April 17 (31°)?
?

York

April 11
April 22
April 30

April 1, 1991

May 13, 1997

April 17 (28°)?
April 23 (31°)?
?

Cambridge

April 21
May 3
May 12

April 14, 1985

 May 29, 1992

April 16 (26°)?
April 18 (31°)?
?

Holdrege

April 13
April 30
May 6

April 10, 2003

May 29, 1992

April 18 (28°)?
April 18 (28°)?
?

Hastings
(NWS Office/Airport)

April 13
April 22
May 1

March 9, 2012

May 14, 2004

April 15 (22°)? / April 15 (23°)?
April 17 (30°)? / April 17 (31°)?

?/?

Hebron

April 11
April 23
May 2

March 11, 2012

May 13, 1997

April 17 (28°)?
April 18 (32°)?
?

Smith Center KS

April 7
April 19
April 30

March 10, 2012

May 6, 1989

April 16 (23°)?
April 18 (32°)?
?

Alton KS

April 20
April 29
May 9

April 8, 1985

May 16, 2011

April 16 (19°)?
April 17 (32°)?
?

Plainville KS

April 10
April 21
May 2

March 10, 2012

May 12, 2008

April 14 (28°)?
April 18 (31°)?
?

Beloit KS

April 7
April 18
April 30

March 11, 2012

May 6, 1989

April 23 (31°)?
April 18 (32°)?
?

 


 

 Median Dates of Last Spring Freeze and Hard Freeze (1981-2010)
(Midwestern Regional Climate Center)

(click images to enlarge)

Median Date of Last 32-Degree Freeze Median Date of Last 28-Degree Hard Freeze

 


 

South Central Nebraska and North Central Kansas
Average Last Frost/Freeze Dates (1981-2010)

(click images to enlarge)

Average Last 36-Degree Date (Frost) Average Last 32-Degree Date (Freeze) Average Last 28-Degree Date (Hard Freeze)


 


 

Nebraska Average Date of Last Spring Freeze
(map courtesy NWS Omaha/Valley
)

(click image to enlarge)

Average date of last 32-degree temps in the spring

 

Kansas Average Date of Last Spring Freeze
(courtesy of the
Kansas State Climatologist)

(click to enlarge)

This page was composed by the staff at the National Weather Service in Hastings, Nebraska.

 



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