Winter nips at spring's heels; most avoid hard freeze

Posted April 11, 2012 10:33 p.m. EDT
Updated April 12, 2012 8:49 a.m. EDT

— Spring has sprung in central North Carolina, but temperatures dipped back down toward winter-like lows Wednesday night and Thursday morning. 

The near-freezing temperatures caused concern among local farmers, but much of the area avoided a hard freeze, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. 

"We're pretty much out of the woods in terms of freezing temperatures with regard to our farmers," Gardner said around 8 a.m. "We've seen the coldest temperatures already and we're going to be warming very slowly during the morning."

Temperatures bottomed out in the mid-30s to near freezing overnight, but should warm into the mid-50s by midday and into the low-to-mid 60s by Thursday afternoon. 

Freeze warnings issued Wednesday for Wake, Durham, Edgecombe, Granville, Halifac, Nash, Orange, Person, Warren, Wilson and Vance counties were canceled around 8:30 a.m. Frost advisories issued for Cumberland, Johnston, Lee, Moore, Harnett, Hoke and Sampson counties were also canceled. 

Freeze warnings and frost advisories issued across much of the state were scheduled to expire around 9 a.m.

A freeze warning, according to the National Weather Service, comes into effect when temperatures are expected to be at or below 32 degrees for an extended period of time during growing season. A frost advisory means there's the potential for frost, which usually occurs with fair skies and light winds.

Farmers trying to protect their crops from freezing were out in force early Thursday. At Porter Farms in Wake County, workers used sprinkler systems to keep frost from forming on plants. Ashley Porter said the sprinklers help save fragile blossoms.

"Red berries and green fruit should be fine, but the blooms – when the frost lands on them, they burn," he said. "The blooms now should be ready by Mother's Day weekend." 

Temperatures will dip back into the mid-30s Thursday night before warming on Friday and Saturday. By Saturday afternoon, temperatures should be back into the mid-70s.

"High pressure will build in and we'll be able to warm up this weekend," Gardner said. 

By early next week, high temperatures will be back in the low-to-mid 80s.