Resist the urge to plant early

Resist the urge to plant early

Resist the urge to plant early

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by BRAD PANOVICH / First Warn Chief Meteorologist

Bio | Email | Follow: @wxbrad

WCNC.com

Posted on March 10, 2014 at 9:18 AM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 11 at 6:11 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It’s pretty easy to get caught up in our early taste of Spring like weather over this past weekend and the 70s we are going to have the next few days.

Even so, it’s still only early March and while the grass, trees and even some flowers have already started to show signs of growth. It’s still way too early to think about planting the garden and flowers. That is unless you want to cover them several nights a week for the next month or so. Or if you just want to replace the plants a few times from now until early mid-April.

I have a rule of a green thumb around here, plant the hardy stuff around Saint Patrick’s Day(March 17th) and plant the tender stuff around Tax Day (April 15).  I say this because history shows us that there will be a hard freeze and many frosts until about early April and sometimes even later.

Here’s a look at the earliest and latest freeze over 135 years of records here in Charlotte during the Spring/Winter. You’ll see our latest freeze ever was May 2, 1963, but even the record for the earliest last freeze is still right only as early as late February. So if you plant now you are betting on a very rare event. Basically you are gambling that we have already had our last freeze of the winter/spring season.

Dates of last occurrence of 32 degrees or lower

Earliest
Feb 18, 1997 - 31
Feb 20, 1880 - 28
Feb 24, 1904 - 30
Feb 25, 1921 - 30
Feb 25, 1946 - 31
March 1, 1935 - 29
March 1, 1938 - 27

Latest
May 2, 1963 - 32
April 25, 2005 - 31
April 21, 1983 - 30
April 21, 1901 - 32
April 21, 1953 - 32
April 21, 1956 - 31
April 1, 2001 - 30

If you want to look just at the past 13 years in Charlotte here are the dates of the last freeze of the season:

2013 - March 29
2012 - March 11
2011 - April 6
2010 - March 27
2009 - March 22
2008 - April 16
2007 - April 10
2006 - April 10
2005 - April 25
2004 - April 6
2003 - March 31
2002 - April 7
2001 - April 19
2000 - April 5

If you average that just over the past 10 years the average last freeze in Charlotte has been around April 8. So you are in really good shape if you are waiting until the week of tax day, April 15.

Now it should be noted these are only the “official” freezes reported at the airport and at your house it could be colder than at the airport. Also this doesn’t include frosts which can occur above 32° but aren’t as damaging to most plants.

For that reason here are some maps that show the average date of our last frost/freeze. Remember this is the average there are always outliers.

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