Spring warmth gives way to frosty blast

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Elizabeth G. Cook
Many North Carolinians are waking up today to an April frost.
The National Weather Service issued freeze watches and warnings for almost all of North Carolina except the Outer Banks, where lows should be in the 40s, and the mountains, where freezing temperatures are still expected in April.
In Rowan County, home gardeners and commercial growers prepared for the late season cold snap by covering tender young plants.
“Home gardeners with tender vegetable transplants need to protect against these late frosts,” said Darrell Blackwelder, a horticulturist with the Rowan office of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service. “Using an old sheet or bedspread as a temporary cover often protects tender annuals. Some use buckets, cans or anything to cover the plants.”
Even if the low didn’t get below freezing, said Carl Erickson of AccuWeather, a frost can occur because temperatures low to the ground can be colder than the air temperature.
Although AccuWeather earlier predicted a low of 31 for Tuesday night, Erickson said around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday that the temperature probably would dip no lower than 34 degrees. The National Weather Service’s freeze warning extends to 9 a.m. today. Its meteorologists predicted low temperatures for early this morning between 29 and 32 degrees across the foothills and Piedmont of the western Carolinas and northeast Georgia.
Snow fell early Tuesday in the mountains, with accumulations of 2 to 3 inches reported on Beech Mountain.
The weather service said up to 4 inches of snow could fall in higher elevations and 1 to 2 inches in valleys before the storm ended Tuesday night.
The forecast for the rest of the week calls for lows ranging from the low 40s to the low 50s.