NC Cooperative Extension Resources

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Horticultural Science

Introduction

Frost forms on solid objects when the water vapor in the atmosphere changes from its vapor phase to small ice crystals. Frost is not frozen dew. If you see frost than you know that the temperature of the object it is on reached 32°F or lower. However, the air temperature, measured at five feet above ground in the vicinity of this object, is likely several degrees higher. Conversely, not every air temperature recorded at or below 32°F means frost formed on solid objects in the area. In spite of this, the average date of the last spring air temperature of 32°F has traditionally been called the last frost date. The dates presented in this leaflet are the average date of the last recorded air temperature at 32°F or lower for the period 1951 - 1980. The standard deviation is an important statistic to consider along with the average date. The standard deviation tells the amount of dispersion around the average. The average date minus one standard deviation gives the date before which there is only a 16% chance of frost. A frost will occur before this date about twice in every 10 year period. For example, in Albemarle a frost will occur before October 13 (the average date of October 25 minus one standard deviation of 12 days) about twice in every 10 year period. The average date minus two standard deviations gives the date before which there is only a 2% chance of frost. A frost will occur before this date about twice in every 100 year period. For example, in Albemarle a frost will occur before October 1 (the average date of October 25 minus two standard deviations of 12 days) about twice in every 100 year period.

For information on how to protect plants from frost and freeze damage see HIL-705, Frost/Freeze Protection for Horticultural Crops, and consult the references listed below.

Below the first fall frost data are listed by Station Name (Table 1) and by County (Table 2).

There are several published references for North Carolina climate data. These references are available from the North Carolina State University Department of Communication Services, Publications, Box 7603, Raleigh, NC 27695-7603; (919) 515-2861.

  • Weather and Climate in North Carolina AG-375 ($2.50)
  • Probabilities of Dry Periods in North Carolina AG-411 ($2.00)
  • Risk of Frost and Freeze Damage for North Carolina Fruit Crops AG-403 (free)
  • Low-Temperature Probability Data for North Carolina AG-403S ($3.00)
  • Growing Degree Days in North Carolina AG-236 ($3.00)

Table 1. Average last spring frost date for selected North Carolina stations (1951-1980)

Table 1. Average last spring frost date and its standard deviation for selected North Carolina locations listed by station name. Data are for the period 1951 - 1980.
Station Name County Average Date Standard Deviation (days)
Albemarle 4 N Stanly April 8 9
Andrews 2 E Cherokee May 4 11
Asheboro 2 W Randolph April 5 12
Asheville Buncombe April 10 10
Banner Elk Avery May 13 17
Bent Creek Buncombe May 5 11
Black Mountain Buncombe April 27 13
Blowing Rock Watauga May 3 14
Brevard Transylvania May 3 11
Burlington Alamance April 1 10
Canton 1 SW Haywood May 4 11
Celo 2 S Yancey May 18 13
Chapel Hill 2 W Orange April 15 12
Charlotte WSO AP Mecklenburg April 2 12
Clinton Sampson April 1 12
Concord Cabarrus April 2 11
Coweeta Exp Station Macon May 7 14
Cullowhee Jackson May 3 13
Durham Durham April 13 12
Edenton Chowan March 23 11
Elizabeth City FAA AP Pasquotank March 31 11
Enka Buncombe April 21 15
Fayetteville Cumberland April 2 12
Franklin 1 SSW Macon May 4 12
Gastonia Gaston April 6 15
Goldsboro 1 SSW Wayne March 28 13
Greensboro Pump Station Guilford April 6 9
Greensboro WSO AP Guilford April 11 8
Greenville Pitt April 1 11
Hamlet Richmond April 9 11
Hatteras Dare March 3 20
Henderson 2 NNW Vance April 21 13
Hendersonville 1 NE Henderson April 26 13
Hickory Burke April 8 11
Highlands 2 S Macon April 25 14
High Point Guilford April 3 10
Hot Springs 2 Madison April 21 12
Jackson Northampton April 11 11
Kinston 5 E Lenoir March 29 14
Laurinburg Scotland March 20 10
Lenoir Caldwell April 16 12
Lexington Davidson March 31 11
Lumberton 6 NW Robeson April 4 14
Marion McDowell April 9 11
Marshall Madison April 29 14
Maysville 6 W Jones April 22 11
Monroe 4 SE Union April 12 12
Morehead City 2 WNW Carteret March 20 17
Morganton Burke April 21 14
Mount Airy Surry April 22 13
Nashville Nash April 4 13
New Bern FAA AP Craven March 22 12
New Holland Hyde March 30 13
Oxford 2 SW Granville April 5 11
Pisgah Forest 1 N Transvylvania May 2 12
Plymouth 5 E Washington April 13 12
Raleigh-Durham WSO AP Wake April 11 14
Raleigh 4 SW Wake April 1 11
Raleigh NCSU Wake March 30 10
Reidsville 2 NW Rockingham April 7 11
Rocky Mount 8 ESE Edgecombe April 5 14
Rowan Research Station Rowan April 17 10
Salisbury Rowan April 9 11
Sanford 8 NE Lee April 19 12
Shelby 2 NNE Cleveland April 12 12
Siler City 2 NW Chatham April 26 12
Smithfield Johnston April 7 12
Southport 5 N Brunswick March 19 16
Statesville 2 NNE Iredell April 23 14
Tarboro 1 S Edgecombe April 5 14
Transou Ashe May 15 15
Tryon Polk April 5 15
Wadesboro Anson March 28 11
Waterville 2 Haywood April 10 16
Waynesville 1 E Haywood May 7 11
Whiteville 7 NW Columbus April 2 15
Willard 4 SW Pender April 4 13
Williamston 1 ENE Martin March 29 11
Wilmington 7 N New Hanover April 6 13
Wilmington WSO AP New Hanover March 17 10
Wilson 3 SW Wilson April 2 10

Table 2. Average last spring frost date for selected North Carolina counties (1951-1980)

Table 2 Average last spring frost date and its standard deviation for selected North Carolina locations listed by county Data are for the period 1951 - 1980
Station Name County Average Date Standard Deviation (days)
Alamance Burlington April 1 10
Anson Wadesboro March 28 11
Ashe Transou May 15 15
Avery Banner Elk May 13 17
Brunswick Southport 5 N March 19 16
Buncombe Enka April 21 15
Black Mountain April 27 13
Asheville April 10 10
Bent Creek May 5 11
Burke Morganton April 21 14
Hickory April 8 11
Cabarrus Concord April 2 11
Caldwell Lenoir April 16 12
Carteret Morehead City 2 WNW March 20 17
Chatham Siler City 2 NW April 26 12
Cherokee Andrews 2 E May 4 11
Chowan Edenton March 23 11
Cleveland Shelby 2 NNE April 12 12
Columbus Whiteville 7 NW April 2 15
Craven New Bern FAA AP March 22 12
Cumberland Fayetteville April 2 12
Dare Hatteras March 3 20
Davidson Lexington March 31 11
Durham Durham April 13 12
Edgecombe Rocky Mount 8 ESE April 5 14
Tarboro 1 S April 5 14
Gaston Gastonia April 6 15
Granville Oxford 2 SW April 5 11
Guilford High Point April 3 10
Greensboro Pump Station April 6 9
Greensboro WSO AP April 11 8
Haywood Waynesville 1 E May 7 11
Waterville 2 April 10 16
Canton 1 SW May 4 11
Henderson Hendersonville 1 NE April 26 13
Hyde New Holland March 30 13
Iredell Statesville 2 NNE April 23 14
Jackson Cullowhee May 3 13
Johnston Smithfield April 7 12
Jones Maysville 6 W April 22 11
Lee Sanford 8 NE April 19 12
Lenoir Kinston 5 E March 29 14
Macon Highlands 2 S April 25 14
Franklin 1 SSW May 4 12
Coweeta Exp Station May 7 14
Madison Hot Springs 2 April 21 12
Marshall April 29 14
Martin Williamston 1 ENE March 29 11
McDowell Marion April 9 11
Mecklenburg Charlotte WSO AP April 2 12
Nash Nashville April 4 13
New Hanover Wilmington WSO AP March 17 10
Wilmington 7 N April 6 13
Northampton Jackson April 11 11
Orange Chapel Hill 2 W April 15 12
Pasquotank Elizabeth City FAA AP March 31 11
Pender Willard 4 SW April 4 13
Pitt Greenville April 1 11
Polk Tryon April 5 15
Randolph Asheboro 2 W April 5 12
Richmond Hamlet April 9 11
Robeson Lumberton 6 NW April 4 14
Rockingham Reidsville 2 NW April 7 11
Rowan Salisbury April 9 11
Rowan Research Station April 17 10
Sampson Clinton April 1 12
Scotland Laurinburg March 20 10
Stanly Albemarle 4 N April 8 9
Surry Mount Airy April 22 13
Transvylvania Pisgah Forest 1 N May 2 12
Brevard May 3 11
Union Monroe 4 SE April 12 12
Vance Henderson 2 NNW April 21 13
Wake Raleigh NCSU March 30 10
Raleigh 4 SW April 1 11
Raleigh-Durham WSO AP April 11 14
Washington Plymouth 5 E April 13 12
Watauga Blowing Rock May 3 14
Wayne Goldsboro 1 SSW March 28 13
Wilson Wilson 3 SW April 2 10
Yancey Celo 2 S May 18 13

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Last modified: Jan. 23, 2015, 11:12 a.m.