Today marks the final Friday with a sunset after 6 pm until Daylight Saving Time returns March 12th. Now that you’ve started booking trips to Florida, let’s talk about another October reality: the end of the growing season. Some towns have dipped to (or just below) freezing already this month, but the majority still have green gardens and summer blooms holding on. After Friday night, many of them will bid a fond farewell.
As the brisk and cool weather gives way to night, winds will diminish and skies will clear out. With a nearly full ‘Hunter’s Moon’ shining down, temperatures will quickly plummet. Calm winds and clear skies are the perfect recipe for ‘radiational cooling’ as all the warmth of the day easily escapes back into space. Widespread 20s and 30s look likely on what should be the coldest night of the season so far. The exception is expected to be Cape Cod and the Islands, where winds won’t go calm. More growing to come!
Forecast lows for Saturday morning, per NWS
The city of Boston won’t hit 32F, and neither will most coastal towns. April 10th was the last time the city dropped to the freezing mark, by the way, during that exceptionally cold start to the month. It usually takes quite a blast of cold to force Logan Airport below 32 degrees until November.
This cold is right on time. The annual killing frost often comes during the first 3 weeks of October for the majority of the region. City centers (urban heat islands) and the coast tend to wait longer as warm water helps moderate the air and keep winds from going completely calm.
A word of warning – the frost/freeze warnings from the National Weather Service will look a little funky. They’re only issued for places that have not seen frost yet. So they may only be in place for a sliver of the area, even though towns to the north and west will be just as cold (if not colder). Once it’s determined that a location has seen a killing frost/freeze, they stop issuing advisories.
Is it worth it to protect plants? I’d cast a vote for yes. Next week looks quite mild. So if you want to get a little more out of your landscaping, be sure to throw out some sheets to protect tender vegetation. Make sure not to use plastic! This also applies to mums. Even though they’re hardy and the plants themselves can survive frost, the blooms get ‘burned’ if frost develops. In other words, they flowers will turn brown and die. Not much use for the plant if the flowers are gone!
The cold of both Friday night and Saturday night will also keep the foliage show moving forward. I’d expect plenty of color to pop this weekend in southern New England as northern New England starts to move past peak conditions. Locally, the Berkshires and much of northern Worcester County should be very bright, with solid color elsewhere. The next two weeks will be prime time for southern New England, so enjoy!
Crawford Notch a postcard of New England fall, as seen on Wednesday afternoon. Photo courtesy Eric Kaminsky