TOLEDO, Ohio — This September heat had me thinking, "Does late summer heat give any indication to when we will see our first freeze?" Let's get geeky:
Following an incredibly wet spring and late planting season, it would be great news for farmers if this warm September spell truly does indicate a longer growing season. But what does past history tell us about what may happen over the next 60 days?
Overall the end of the growing season is getting warmer in northwest Ohio. The average temperature (high and low averaged) between September-October has been increasing steadily for the past 30 years. About one degree every 10 years. Overnight lows saw the biggest increase with minimums nearly four degrees warmer on average now versus 30 years ago during September and October.
Even with that warming trend, all it takes is one freeze to end the growing season. Over the past 30 years, our average first freeze has been Oct. 15. But only three times in the past 10 years have our first freeze come before that date. Five times did we recorded a September with multiple 90-degree days: 2017, 2005, 2013, 2010 and 2002. All except 2002 had a later than Oct. 15 first freeze and 2002 was only early by two days! The most recent occurrence of multiple September 90-degree days in 2017 eventually turned into an 11-day later than normal first freeze. One of the latest on record.
This will be its own year and we will have to wait to see what October brings. While we can't judge the future 100% on a few 90-degree days, we know our autumns are warming. We also know it has been rare to have an earlier than normal freeze this past decade. All signs point that this growing season more than likely will extend into late October.
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