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Pattern change will bring hard freeze to Virginia, meteorologist warns

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Posted at 6:26 PM, Mar 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-24 18:29:10-04

ASHLAND, Va. -- Virginia is about to experience a pattern change that will bring cold weather back to the Commonwealth that could be problematic for flowering trees and shrubs and any tender plantings.

A strong cold front will pass early Saturday that will usher in much cooler weather, with highs in the 50s to lower 60s. Lows Saturday night will be in the 30s with some frost possible towards daybreak.

While Sunday will be mostly sunny with highs in the low to mid 50s, lows Monday morning will be below freezing for most areas away from the coast, with some widespread 20s north and west. Highs Monday will be in the lower 50s. Lows Monday night will again be below freezing.

CBS 6 Chief Meteorologist Zach Daniel showed examples of what happened to some trees and plantings hit by frost about 10 to 12 days ago at Colesville Nursery in Ashland.

"This is a Jane magnolia, you're not going to kill this thing with a frost," Daniel said. "But the blooms, you will notice what happened here, this is called burning... When you get a freeze, it really knocks them back hard."

Other tender plantings will need to be covered to save them from the frost.

"But it is too early for geraniums right now," Daniel said. "If you have put them in the ground or anything that is sensitive, get something to cover them up."

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Daniel pointed out that the average final freeze for Richmond is April 6. The earliest was recorded on March 11, 2012 and the latest happened on May 11, 1966.

"So it's very common to have a freeze this early in the season," Daniel said. "It's just the warmth that we've had leading up to this."

Daniel said that we sometimes see a "hurting freeze or frost" when temperatures are still in the mid 30s is because temperature gauges are off of the ground for five feet, for example.

"The near-surface temperatures can drop down to freezing and that can really knock back these plants, stunt them or even killed them," Daniel explained.

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