Weather Alert

Extended drought could prompt an early frost this fall

Dennis Todey

AMES — One weather expert says continued heat with little rainfall now in late summer could be a contributing factor to an early frost.

Meteorologist Dennis Todey, director of the USDA’s Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, says the long-running drought could prompt a potential crop-damaging frost sooner than expected. “If we get some more moisture in the air, that could delay some of our frost potential,” Todey says. “When you have very dry air, very dry conditions, you can cool down a bit more quickly at night and maybe instead of getting to 35 or 34, we get down to 31 or 30 degrees.”

Todey says early dry down of crops could also contribute to the frost risk.  “Dry conditions are a potential risk because the soils are dry,” Todey says. “If the crops dry down sooner, they’re not transpiring much more moisture, so it could be a risk, but if crops are mainly past their potential for damage, it may not be a big issue overall.”

Normal frost dates over the northern plains become a factor in late September and into October. Fall arrives September 22nd.


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