Freeze Potential High for Northeast

March 23, 2012; 5:27 AM ET
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Unprotected tender early-blooming plants are at risk for getting frozen and frostbitten early next week. ( image)

In the wake of a slow-moving storm slated to impact the Northeast this weekend, a brief push of cold air can bring a frost and freeze to interior locations early next week.

Normally, speaking of a frost or freezing temperatures would not be a concern in late March. However, due to the great expanse budding, blossoming and flower-buying of late, it is a worry.

Temperatures are forecast to drop to near or below freezing for several hours from portions of Michigan to Maine as far south as West Virginia and the Delmarva Monday night.

The risk would include a second night, Tuesday night, farther to the east over New England.

While warmer-than-average lake and ocean waters, as well as now warmer-than-average ground temperatures, will negate the weather system somewhat, it may not be enough to avoid damaging conditions.

High pressure from Canada slip in in such a way to drive cold air directly southward from eastern Canada, avoiding the warming effect of the Great Lakes to some extent, especially from the central Appalachians on to the east.

Around the central Great Lakes, the central Appalachians and western New York state Monday night, the cold air will collect near the ground, so lower plants, such as grapevines and those flowers you have on the front porch, may be more susceptible than say full-sized fruit trees.

Farther to the east Monday night, it may be both windy and below freezing for a few hours. In this case the layer of cold will extend well above the ground.

The only exception places that might escape under these conditions may be the urban areas of the larges cities, or areas immediately down wind of large lakes.

Some garden hoses brought out and filled with water could burst under such conditions.

RELATED:How to Protect Plants from a Freeze

During Tuesday night, light winds and clear skies could bring another dose of freezing temperatures or a near-ground frost to New England and the rural and suburban areas of the mid-Atlantic coast.

Details will continue to unfold as to the magnitude of the brief cold shot expected early next week.

At the very least, after the amazing warmth of the past several weeks, the brief visit will pack a bite and a bit of a reality check.

Additional Freezes Possible

According to Long Range Expert Joe Lundberg, "Looking ahead, it is possible we will have several additional episodes of near- or below-freezing temperatures during the nighttime and early morning hours moving forward into April in the Northeast."

"It will be a matter of timing as to when the chilly high pressure areas move down, versus occurring at night and if skies become clear and winds diminish," Lundberg added.

While prepping the vegetable or flower garden for planting may prove to be a time-saver, the old average date of the last frost and freeze may yet prove to be the best guideline in determining when to plant at least in the Northeast despite this amazingly warm pattern.

The upcoming pattern into April will feature less long-running extreme warmth, but more swings between seasonable chill and warmth in the Northeast.


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