Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Summer Frost

How can it be? We've been experiencing the hottest summer on record - I've had a string of 52 days with highs of 90° and above - and now we have a summer FROST!

 Last night bottomed out at 37.5°. Jerry Harting's station, about two miles west of here, recorded a low of 37.9° and Dan Miller, about four miles due north, showed a low of 38°. That was enough, along with perfectly clear skies and winds which died down, to cause a scattered frost to form.
 The picture above was taken in our garden just before 8 a.m., before the sun had a chance to strike the dried grass I had raked after my last mow and stack there beside the tomatoes. I didn't see any frost on the lawn, only in this one open location. This leaf was fringed with frost and framed by a patch of white.

 To give you a wider - and more honest - view, here's the same scene so that you can see how limited the extent of the frost was. There were other patches, to be sure, but all confined to the garden.
 I looked at my own frost records, back to 1974, and found the next earliest frost to be just a day later - September 20, 1991. That was also a summer date. The average date for the first front here is October 4 (my own 39 years of figures; not the NWS official number).
 Autumn doesn't begin until this Saturday, still three days away.

 So, after taking these pictures of the frost, I went out for my usual early morning walk (I wore a jacket for the first time) and enjoyed the quickly warming sun.  I walked back Sam's lane, enjoying the rising sun shining through the blades of corn. At noon it's already 60°, sunny and pleasantly calm.

 Does this spell an early and harsh winter or does it mean nothing at all? My own thinking is that nature tries always to compensate, to average extremes, to seek the middle ground. And so the extreme early heat is met with a touch of cold, smoothing the numbers, bringing us back in line.
 Whether any of that is true remains to be seen.

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