Spring and Fall Freeze Dates and Probabilities for
Southeastern North Carolina and Northeastern South Carolina


Spring Freeze


The map and table to the right show the average date of the last Spring Freeze calculated for a number of locations using data from 1950-2010. The actual date of the last freeze can vary tremendously from year to year, sometimes occurring as early as February near the coast and as late as April or even early May inland. The date of the last Spring Freeze determines when cold-sensitive plants (including most annual garden vegetables) can safely be moved outside.



Detailed Spring Freeze Statistics are available for:
Map showing the date of average last spring freeze for a number of locations across SE North Carolina and NE South Carolina.
Willard, NC Castle Hayne, NC Wilmington, NC Southport, NC Elizabethtown, NC Whiteville, NC Longwood, NC Lumberton, NC McColl, SC Dillon, SC Darlington, SC Florence, SC Marion, SC Lake City, SC Kingstree, SC Andrews, SC Georgetown, SC Brookgreen Gardens, SC Conway, SC
Average Date of the Last Spring Freeze
LocationDate
Wilmington, NCMar 18
Castle Hayne, NCApr 3
Willard, NCApr 1
Southport, NCMar 24
Elizabethtown, NCMar 31
Whiteville, NCMar 30
Longwood, NCApr 1
Lumberton, NCApr 1
Florence, SCMar 21
Conway, SCMar 15
Georgetown, SCMar 12
Brookgreen Gardens, SCMar 24
McColl, SCMar 28
Dillon, SCMar 30
Marion, SCMar 30
Darlington, SCMar 26
Lake City, SCMar 24
Kingstree, SCMar 27
Andrews, SCMar 20
Pee Dee, SCMar 27




Fall Freeze


The map and table to the right show the average date of the first Fall Freeze calculated for a number of locations using data from 1950-2010. The actual date of the first freeze can vary tremendously from year to year, sometimes occurring as early as October and as late as December at the coast. The date of the first Fall Freeze determines when cold-sensitive plants (including most annual garden vegetables) need to be moved indoors or harvested.



Detailed Fall Freeze Statistics are available for:
Map showing the date of average first fall freeze for a number of locations across SE North Carolina and NE South Carolina.
Willard, NC Castle Hayne, NC Wilmington, NC Southport, NC Elizabethtown, NC Whiteville, NC Longwood, NC Lumberton, NC McColl, SC Dillon, SC Darlington, SC Florence, SC Marion, SC Lake City, SC Kingstree, SC Andrews, SC Georgetown, SC Brookgreen Gardens, SC Conway, SC
Average Date of the First Fall Freeze
LocationDate
Wilmington, NCNov 16
Castle Hayne, NCNov 4
Willard, NCNov 4
Southport, NCNov 12
Elizabethtown, NCNov 2
Whiteville, NCNov 1
Longwood, NCOct 31
Lumberton, NCOct 31
Florence, SCNov 10
Conway, SCNov 15
Georgetown, SCNov 22
Brookgreen Gardens, SCNov 14
McColl, SCNov 2
Dillon, SCNov 1
Marion, SCOct 30
Darlington, SCNov 4
Lake City, SCNov 8
Kingstree, SCNov 2
Andrews, SCNov 13
Pee Dee, SCNov 5




Growing Season Length


The map and table to the right show the average length of the Growing Season calculated for a number of locations using data from 1950-2010. The actual length of the Growing Season can vary tremendously from year to year, sometimes totalling less than 200 days in a cold year to nearly 300 days along the coast in a particularly warm year. The Growing Season begins after the final Spring Freeze has occurred, and runs until the first freeze occurs in the Fall. The number of days in the Growing Season can help determine what plants can be grown in a particular climate. Growing Season length is also useful in comparing climates from different areas, or even from the same area over different times.



Detailed Growing Season Length Statistics are available for:
Map showing the length of the Growing Season for a number of locations across SE North Carolina and NE South Carolina.
Willard, NC Castle Hayne, NC Wilmington, NC Southport, NC Elizabethtown, NC Whiteville, NC Longwood, NC Lumberton, NC McColl, SC Dillon, SC Darlington, SC Florence, SC Marion, SC Lake City, SC Kingstree, SC Andrews, SC Georgetown, SC Brookgreen Gardens, SC Conway, SC
Average Length of the Growing Season
LocationGrowing Season Length (Days)
Wilmington, NC242
Castle Hayne, NC213
Willard, NC215
Southport, NC233
Elizabethtown, NC213
Whiteville, NC215
Longwood, NC210
Lumberton, NC212
Florence, SC232
Conway, SC244
Georgetown, SC255
Brookgreen Gardens, SC231
McColl, SC218
Dillon, SC214
Marion, SC213
Darlington, SC223
Lake City, SC227
Kingstree, SC218
Andrews, SC238
Pee Dee, SC222


Frequently Asked Questions


What should I plant in my garden this year based on this information?

North Carolina State University and Clemson University have put together excellent State-specific resources for various garden vegetables including varieties and times needed to mature for harvest: NCSU Planting Guide, and Clemson Planning a Garden

Note that even in the coldest years in Eastern North or South Carolina there is plenty of time in the Growing Season to grow virtually any type of garden vegetable. Drought or extreme heat are normally much larger concerns for farmers and gardeners.

Why does the date of the last Spring Freeze (or first Fall freeze) vary so much from place to place?

Many factors determine how much nighttime temperatures vary from place to place. It's worth mentioning first of all that there are two types of freeze events: an advective freeze, and a radiational freeze. An advective freeze occurs when strong winds (usually northwest or north winds) bring cold air into the region. Since winds continue blowing through night any small-scale temperature variations are evened out quickly. Temperatures vary only a little from place to place during an advective freeze. On nights when skies are clear and winds are calm, a very different event occurs called a radiational freeze. On these nights microclimates appear where temperatures can vary widely from neighborhood to neighborhood, or even from your frontyard to your backyard. Differences in tree cover and vegetation, proximity to water, slope and elevation, and even soil type help create these temperature differences.

Soil type and proximity to water seem to have the most impact here in the Eastern Carolinas. Peat or mixed-peat/sand soils like are found in Carolina Bays and pocosin swamps produce the coldest nights and shortest growing seasons. Proximity to water (ocean, or large rivers and lakes) often provides locally warmer temperatures, extending the Growing Season length.


Are the first and last dates for freezing temperatures changing?

Thoughout the period 1950 through 2010 most stations in the Eastern Carolinas showed increases in the length of the Growing Season caused by earlier last Spring Freezes and later first Fall Freezes. The Growing Season is observed to be lengthening at a rate of around 1 day every 10 years in Wilmington and Florence. Climate changes over long cycles that are sometimes difficult to see from the perspective of a human lifespan; observed increases in Growing Season length over the previous 60 years are not guaranteed to continue at the same rate in the future.

What is the source of the data used on this website?

For Wilmington, NC and Florence, SC weather observations used in this study were collected at the local airports using climate observations overseen by the National Weather Service. The remainder of the stations used here are part of the NWS Cooperative Observation Program, a network of thousands of volunteer observers who report their highs, lows and daily precipitation to the National Weather Service. Official equipment and training is provided by the National Weather Service to ensure the data collected is high quality. The countless hours of public service volunteered by Cooperative Observers over the years are invaluable in establishing a more complete picture of the climate of the United States.


Page Author: Tim Armstrong
Page Created: Feb 27, 2012
Last Modified: Oct 20, 2012