October 04, 2013

First Frost Hits Some Washington Locations

Last night, a number of Washington locations received their first frost...but just barely.  And there is plenty of interest in the first frost, including from eastern Washington vineyards and those of us with still viable tomato plants.

Here on the western side of the Cascades, freezing temperatures (light blue colors below) were mainly found over the south Sound lowlands away from the water and in some Cascade valleys.

In eastern Washington, light frosts were observed near Ellensburg, Yakima, among other locations.

We do not have unusually cool air over us, but the nights are already getting much longer  and much of the region was cloud free over night (see satellite photo below).   The surface cooling is caused by radiational cooling to space.  Long nights are obviously good for this.  Clear skies are good too, since clouds can act as meteorological blankets, absorbing and re-emitting infrared radiation.

 The frost risk will lessen over the weekend as the atmosphere warms as high pressure moves in overhead.


  1. Cliff, are you seriously saying that it isn't unseasonably cold?

    I feel like we went from muggy weather mid-September with 60F dewpoints straight to a cold snap with daytime highs in the 50s. It was dramatic, without any pleasant weather in between.

  2. My car had some frost on it this morning here in Whatcom County, right at the base of the foothills, at around 650 ft. elevation. Both the car thermometer and the Davis weather station inside read 39 degrees at the time.

  3. We briefly hit 32 in Eatonville...not enough to get frosty but it was certainly chilly out! I remember back in 2003 when we were trick-or-treating in 28 degree weather...at 7:00 p.m.! I don't know if I'm quite ready for it to be that cold yet!

  4. We haven't had a frost, but the hailstorm of a few weeks ago, coupled with the cooler, wet temperature, did in our tomatoes a week ago, from pure fungus.

    Our garden is now cleared, except for beets. We had a huge stand of pole beans, but the 40mph wind from the east (did not expect that, hence oriented trellises pointing N/S) rather did for that.

  5. It was a close call here in the Mid-Valley in Oregon. Almost freezing--I think it might actually frost tonight. Thanks for all the interesting info! (grin)

  6. Cliff, I've been an admirer of yours for many years, and I share your interest in quelling ill-founded environmental fears, especially at a time when the real ones demand serious attention. Unfortunately, on ocean acidification you got both the facts and the story wrong. Over at the Seattle Times, Craig Welch's reply to your blog sets the record straight. The URL for Craig's response is here:


    Unfortunately, ocean acidification is not, as you asserted, merely a real though far-off problem for the future. It's here now. That's why the leading hatcheries in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia are carefully monitoring water chemistry in order to avoid "bad" water, and buffer it when necessary to protect their tiny, vulnerable livestock. (I've raised money to help fund these monitoring efforts, which represent a key porthole on a problem that will face other seafood producers in the future). The "seed" from these hatcheries supplies farms up and down the West Coast, and thousands of jobs depend on their success. They do not have the luxury of pretending that ocean acidification is not killing their oysters.

    Your desire to defend scientific credibility is honorable and welcome. But this time, it was your own (otherwise strong) credibility that you put at risk. In science as in journalism, there is only one way to repair it: Please start over, admit your errors of fact and interpretation, and give your audience —and your own reputation— the straight story they deserve.

    I worked in the seafood industry trade press for 25 years before starting a program to help the industry cope with ocean acidification. I only wish that you were right. It would be a good day if we could focus on easier battles.

    Brad Warren
    Director, Global Ocean Health Program,
    a joint initiative of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and the National Fisheries Conservation Center


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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