Beyond The Forecast: Roanoke is on track for its fewest freezes in one year

Happy Monday! Although we’re dealing with some cooler air to start the new week, 2020 as a whole has been one of the warmest years on record. There are multiple metrics we can use to examine the warmth, but this newsletter will focus on the number of times our area has dropped to the freezing point, 32 degrees, or lower. For the purposes of this analysis, some years of record had to be removed from the calculations, due to missing data.

We told you last week on 10 News that Lynchburg set a record for the latest first fall freeze. Roanoke was awfully close to its own record, falling one day short. Freezing air came to Danville and Blacksburg slightly earlier this year.

If the first fall freeze is happening later, that means we’re probably getting fewer freezes in general, right?

That’s exactly the case. We’ve crunched the numbers and Roanoke has only frozen 35 times this year, the fewest on record through Nov. 22. Lynchburg, Danville and Blacksburg are all in the top 12 for the fewest freezes to date.

There are only 39 days left in the year (including today), so Roanoke would have to drop to 32° or lower 59 percent of the time for us to avoid the record for the fewest freezes in one year (57 in 2012). It seems unlikely that will happen.

In case you’re curious, the record for MOST freezes in one year in the Star City is 113, so obviously, that record is safe. It has stood since 1981.

The lack of freezes this year begs the question: is this warmer trend during winter going to continue? The answer appears to be yes.

Since 1970, Virginia winters have warmed by 3 to 4 degrees, per Climate Central. The organization also says winter is the fastest-warming season in the Commonwealth.

We’ll continue to track the number of freezes for you through the rest of the year and let you know if the record officially falls.

You can always get specific forecast details for your zone, whether it’s the Roanoke Valley, Lynchburg area, Highlands or elsewhere around Southwest and Central Virginia, anytime at WSLS.com/weather. Know your zone!

In case you missed it, we’re posting great weather and science content on WSLS.com. Here are a few links from the past week to check out:

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-- Justin McKee


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