From summer heat to winter cold: The average first fall frost and freeze dates

September 15, 2023
Is it just me or did we seamlessly go from summer heat to cooler fall temperatures?
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 5:45 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Is it just me or did we literally go from summer heat to cooler fall temperatures overnight? While it’s not super cold just yet, the time for winter coats will quickly come. When can we expect those freezing temperatures to dive on in?

According to the National Weather Service, we are about sixteen days from the average date of our first frost in south central Nebraska. The 30-year average being around the first or second day of October in the Tri-Cities. A frost forms on solid surfaces that are cooled below the dew point. An air temperature between 33°F and 36°F, along with very light winds, is needed to initiate frost formation.

The average first frost for south central Nebraska occurs during the first few days of October
The average first frost for south central Nebraska occurs during the first few days of October(KSNB)

Not long after our first frost comes our first freeze. A freeze occurs when the air temperature drops to 32°F or lower. A freeze will result in significant damage to many unprotected plants, especially if the temperature remains at-or-below freezing for several hours. On average we experience our first fall freeze during the second week of October in the Tri-Cities. However, that wasn’t the case for Grand Island in the year 1902 when the first, and earliest first freeze on record occurred on September 12th.

On average the first fall freeze occurs in the second week of October
On average the first fall freeze occurs in the second week of October(KSNB)

Then comes the dreaded hard freeze in mid October as the temperature falls to 28°F or lower for at least a few hours. Definitely the last first day I’m looking forward to.

On average the first hard freeze falls somewhere in mid October
On average the first hard freeze falls somewhere in mid October(KSNB)