If it seems a little early for the fall scramble — when homeowners hustle to cover tender plants and gardeners gather the last of the green tomatoes — well, it is.
In an average year, the first freeze would still be nearly a month away, Nov. 22. But meteorologists have called for temperatures in the low 30s this weekend, making possible more entries for the weather records books.
According to the National Weather Service, the region’s earliest recorded freeze occurred in 1898, on Oct. 22. The second earliest occurred in 1957, on Oct. 27.
As more of the North Texas prairie yields to roads, buildings and parking lots, temperature differences have emerged between the cities and the countryside. As a result, the weather service has not predicted a freeze for the urban areas, according to meteorologist Dan Huckaby.
“The heat island is growing more and more in recent years,” Huckaby said.
However, temperatures were expected to reach into the low 30s in Denton County and other rural areas, making a killing frost or freeze possible this weekend.
High winds aloft in the middle of the country — the same system that is expected to combine with Hurricane Sandy to become a dangerous hybrid of tropical and winter storms — are bringing cold air down from Canada, Huckaby said.
Denton won’t see any of that — instead, nights are expected to be calm and clear. And, even if the air measures a few degrees above freezing, temperatures at ground level are likely to be below freezing, Huckaby said.
“That’s part of the reason why you see a frost — there is a big temperature difference from the ground and the air,” Huckaby said. “That’s when the plants will get frozen.”
Daytime temperatures are expected to rise to more normal levels, possibly as early as Sunday, though most likely by Tuesday, Huckaby said.
Lest residents have forgotten — with so many afternoons reaching into the 80s this month — the normal daytime high for the end of October is in the mid-70s, Huckaby said.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.