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The last frost is likely past, UGA climate expert says

By for CAES News

Georgians may be wondering if the state’s last frost of the year has already passed. The answer, of course, depends on where you live and the quirks of the weather.

I consulted the weather models to see if I could determine the chance of a late frost this year. The weather models run out to about two weeks, although accuracy more than seven days out is not very high.

Looking forward, it is likely that most areas of Georgia should not see another frost this spring. The only exception may be the far northeastern part of Georgia in the mountains, where the morning of April 13 could reach near-freezing temperatures in some locations.

Of course, these large-scale models are not good at capturing the microclimates that are tucked into the hills and hollows of the mountains, so if you know you are in a cold spot, you should be especially vigilant in preparing for freezing conditions.

Climatology and the weather maps suggest that, for most of the region, the average last frost date has passed. During the second half of April in northern Georgia, frost only occurs one out of every 10 years.

It is important to note that the years on which the climatology is based were generally colder than Georgia’s current climate due to the upward creep of temperatures, especially minimum temperatures, that the state, region and country have seen over time.

On the other hand, frosts are caused by weather events, not by climate, so even in a warmer climate, Georgia could still see late frosts if the conditions are right.

Those who want to delve further can view the AgroClimate freeze-risk probabilities tool for the Southeast at agroclimate.org/tools. To access weather data from the University of Georgia’s Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network, go to weather.uga.edu.

Pam Knox serves as University of Georgia Agricultural Climatologist with UGA Department of Crop and Soil Science.
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