September 17th: the beginning of the end of summer

Weather Blog

Nearly 60 years ago on this date, Rochester saw its first freeze. Yup, you read that right. Some of the earliest signs of winter have begun even before summer had a chance to end. This just goes to show that we’re more than capable of seeing freezing temperatures this early on, and signs seem to be pointing in that direction.

Since we’re expecting a cooler than normal forecast, I thought it would be fun to look at some of the colder aspects of weather we could be running into soon. Some of these things involving yes, snow. Fall has still yet to arrive, but it won’t be long before winter follows soon after. Best to get mentally prepared for the possibility of what could happen, right?

The main headline with our chilly temperatures expected in the short term will be the potential for some frost to appear on grassy surfaces as temperatures inch closer and closer to the freezing mark. With the potential for frost in the forecast, how soon could we, or have we in the past seen freezing temperatures?

Our earliest freeze on record occurred around 60 years ago from today, as soon as September 17th. Today’s temperatures included a low of 57℉ and a high of 66℉, so it’s safe to say we dodged that bullet by a good amount.

This is how soon we’ve seen temperatures drop to 32 degrees here in Rochester. It definitely can happen, and it’s been a while since it has.

The earliest recorded snowflakes and measurable snow have also occurred before the start of both astronomical and meteorological winter with the earliest flakes falling as early as September 20th in 1956, and the first measurable snowfall (≥0.1″) by October 9th in 1925.

Here are some other “first winter snowfall” facts for both Buffalo and Rochester below:

Did you know?

When we forecast a temperature of let’s say, 38 degrees for a low, that’s what the temperature is expected to be and feel at about 2 meters, or ~6 feet off the ground. It’s right around or above face level to get the most accurate representation of what temperatures will feel like for us. But once you start getting closer to the surface, temperatures can often be colder than what it is at 2 meters above it. This means that a temperature of 38 at eye level could mean 34 or even closer to freezing at ground level, and the potential for frost becomes that much more relevant.

What does this mean for us? For some folks it may mean it’s time to start thinking about taking the sweaters and long sleeves out of the attic, and for those with a green thumb it may not be the worst idea to start bringing in the sensitive plants for the weekend.

Forecast Headlines

We have a couple of chilly nights and mornings this weekend with the potential for frost to form. Let’s take a look at what models are showing in the graphic below:

12 kilometer RPM model for Saturday morning
12 kilometer RPM model for Sunday morning

With a couple models showing temperatures getting so close to freezing, it’s definitely worth the mention considering conditions will be just right for temperatures to drop so quickly. Take this model with a grain of salt though, as other models are showing slightly warmer outcomes for both of these mornings. We’re still anticipating these mornings to be quite chilly, but not everyone will see temperatures in the lower 30s.

It’s very easy for temperatures to drop when you have clear skies and calm winds, and that’s what will help temperatures get to such chilly levels over the weekend. To learn more about how temperatures are able to plunge so quickly check out the latest weather glossary: Radiational Cooling Defined: The rapid loss of heat from earth’s surface.

For perspective, the average high and low temperature as of right now are 71℉ and 52℉. Not only are we seeing cold low temperatures, but high temperatures especially into the start of next week will be below average too.

Check out the Climate Prediction Center’s outlook for temperatures over the next 6-10 days. It’s likely with the quiet, and cool pattern setting up that these temperatures will in fact follow through.

Not only are we seeing colder than average temperatures, but we’re seeing much drier than normal conditions as well. If you haven’t checked out the latest 8-day forecast there’s really not much rain all throughout next week.

Feeling bummed about the fall cool down? Don’t worry, in the long run it’s likely temperatures will bounce back into the 70s for some nice warmth you may have missed as our final days of summer come to a close.

8-14 day temperature outlook courtesy: Pivotal Weather

That’s the beauty of weather, it changes just as quick as it happens!

For the latest updates on the forecast, click HERE

~Meteorologist Christine Gregory

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