KSN Storm Track 3 Digital Extra: The first freeze of the fall season

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The fall season was off to a mild start which helped delay our fall foliage as we awaited our first freezes of the season to occur across the Sunflower State. For many, it did not occur until November, which is behind schedule in some parts of Kansas.

Northern Kansas typically finds the first freeze of the season, which is defined as temperatures reaching 32° or below, between the beginning and the middle of October. In this part of Kansas, we were almost right on schedule for finding our first freeze. Southern Kansas, however, had to wait until November before morning lows dropped below that freezing benchmark.

From October 1 to November 20, only Goodland and Salina saw temperatures fall to 32° or below in the month of October. Places like Dodge City and Wichita did not experience a freeze during the month of October and have accumulated all mornings at or below freezing in November.

When temperatures fall to 28° or below for a period of three to four hours, this is a strong enough blast of cold air to start impacting more tender vegetation and crops. It is referred to as a hard freeze and typically initiates the end of the growing season. For Kansas, we see temperatures drop this low by the middle of October on average in northwestern Kansas to the middle of November across southern and southeastern Kansas.

While northern Kansas saw its first blast of freezing temperatures close to when we typically see our first freeze of the fall season, this was not the case with the first hard freeze of the season. Temperatures did not drop this low until the end of October in northwestern Kansas and the middle of November for the rest of the state.

The only area to see temperatures at a seasonable benchmark for a hard freeze was Wichita where the first hard freeze of the season occurred on November 13, recording a temperature of 24° at Eisenhower National Airport. A temperature this cold can also be referred to as a severe freeze, or a killing freeze, because the only plants that typically survive temperatures this cold for a set period of time are hardy perennials and trees.

As of November 20, Goodland is the only location to have recorded temperatures into the teens so far this season, but every city has seen a hard freeze recorded. Two of those days in Dodge City, Salina and Wichita have been at or below 24°, and four of the 11 days have been recorded in Goodland at or below 24°.

— Meteorologist Erika Paige

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