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Weather Talk: First frost is coming later, but varies each fall

The average first freezing temperature of the fall season has been trending later in the fall in recent decades. But in any given year, the date of the first frost varies greatly. Some years, we get a few nights close to freezing weeks before the actual first freezing temperature.

Last fall, there was not even a chilly night in the 30s until it got to 36 degrees Sept. 29. In fact, in each of the past five autumns, there have only been one or two cool nights in September and no frost before October.

Back in 2012, it got to 36 degrees Sept. 9 and there was frost Sept. 18. In 2011, it got to 34 on Sept. 14 and actually got to 30 on Sept. 15. In 2010, there were three nights in the mid 30s on Sept. 8, Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, then a frost on Oct. 2. The earliest freezing temperature on record is Aug. 25, 1885, and the latest is Oct. 24, 1994.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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