Another Northeast Freeze Tonight

March 29, 2012; 8:10 PM ET
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Old and new grapevines weather early spring chill. (Image by

In the wake of temperatures dipping into the teens and 20s to start the week in the Northeast, another freeze will visit some areas of the mid-Atlantic tonight.

Temperatures dipped into the teens as far south as northern Pennsylvania and into the 20s in northern Maryland, northern Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio Tuesday morning.

In New England and in the northern mid-Atlantic coast, the cold was accompanied by wind, making the freeze quite penetrating.

Another freeze is in store tonight into Friday morning in New England and the northern part of the mid-Atlantic.

How cold it gets tonight will depend to some extent on cloud cover and wind conditions. However, like the last cold blast, it will still get to and below freezing in some northern areas with wind and patchy clouds.

While temperatures may average some 5 to 10 degrees higher than the most recent event, it posses risk to blossoms and tender sprouting vegetation.

According to Fred and Tim Merwarth of Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyards in the Finger Lakes region of New York state, "It was too windy and too cold last night to use helicopters and bonfires to keep the vines warm."

The practice can disturb the air enough in marginal temperature situations to keep the fields a few degrees warmer. However, it only works in calm or light wind conditions.

Low temperatures in upstate New York included 20 in Syracuse and Dansville, 21 in Elmira, 22 in Penn Yan and 25 in Rochester.

Vintners in the Finger Lakes were keeping their fingers crossed and hoping for the best. It may not be for several days until we know for sure the extent of any damage.

The Merwarths held off pruning all of their vines once the word was given by last week of the potential for a hard freeze.

According to Tim Merwarth, "There is some research that suggest that delayed pruning can delay bud break by seven to 10 days."

On a positive note, the cooler weather occurring now could delay the premature bud break in some cases.

Tim was mostly concerned of damage to native grape varieties that had already leafed in the Keuka area as well as cherry, apricot and early apple trees that were in blossom.

Farther south in New Jersey, some growers covered strawberry plants.

Fortunately, over much of southern and central part of the Garden State, temperatures dropped no lower than the upper 20s and did so for only a brief period early this morning. Low temperatures in New Jersey included 28 in Millville and Pomona, 29 in Somerville, 30 in Wrightstown and 32 in Trenton.

This story was originally published Tuesday, March 27, 2012 and has been updated Thursday, March 29, 2012.


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