Kansas City’s warm fall temperatures are coming to an end as a stretch of below normal temperatures will likely bring widespread freezing temperatures this weekend.
After a warm Thursday with highs in the 70s, temperatures are expected to plummet overnight to near freezing by Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill.
In addition to the near freezing temperatures, wind chills are expected to make the morning temperatures feel more like the middle to upper 20s.
Temperatures on Friday aren’t expected to warm much, with highs reaching into the 40s. That’s well below the normal high in the low 60s for this time of year, according to the National Weather Service.
Wind chills Friday evening are expected to drop into the upper 20s.
The first freeze of the season is expected Saturday morning, with lows between the upper 20s and low 30s.
The National Weather Service has issued a freeze watch for the Kansas City area which remains in effect from late Friday through Saturday morning.
The sub-freezing temperatures could damage or kill unprotected, cold-sensitive plants and crops, the National Weather Service warned.
Wind chills will be in the upper teens to mid 20s early Saturday. Highs on Saturday will again only reach into the 40s.
With mostly clear skies overnight, a hard freeze is expected for much of the area Sunday morning as temperatures fall between 25 to 28 degrees. Wind chills will be in the upper teens to mid 20s. Sunday will be a bit warmer, with highs in the 50s, according to the National Weather Service.
The lows Monday morning will be above freezing with lows in the mid-30s to 40 degrees. Highs Monday are expected to be in the upper 40s to mid 50s.
Highs on Halloween will be cool with highs in the mid 40s to lower 50s. A light wind is likely for trick-or-treaters with temps in the lower to middle 40s.
Temperatures are expected to return to near normal on Wednesday as temps climb to the mid to upper 50s.
The extended period of freezing temperatures, combined with fairly low daytime temperatures, doesn’t bode well for most annual flowers as well as tomato and pepper plants.
“Anything that will not tolerate a freeze will be terminated or killed,” said Dennis Patton, a horticulturist for the Johnson County K-State Research and Extension Office in Olathe. “It will be end of the season.”
The cold temperatures will force the hardy plants that can withstand winter into dormancy.
With the fairly warm temperatures up until now, plants have been actively growing. While some have started to go dormant, they aren’t dormant yet. The freeze will help the plants to continue to prepare for winter, Patton said.
The timing of this year’s first freeze is coming at what has become a new normal for the Kansas City area.
More than 10 years ago, the average first frost around the Kansas City was more around mid-October. But in recent years, the typical first frost is around Oct. 25.
People who want to try to extend the season can try covering their plants with tarps, blankets or buckets in attempt to capture the warmth from the soil.
People should avoid using a layer of plastic because it’s not a good insulator, Patton said. If using a plastic tarp, make sure it’s not touching plant or it might burn the plant.
Those who have plants they want to save, like house plants placed outdoors for the summer or tender bulbs, should move them indoors or at least into a garage.
For those wanting to prepare for the freeze, Patton had several suggestions, including not doing anything until spring.
“It’s been a wonderful growing season — we should have no complaints about the temperatures and rainfall,” he said. “I think some people let nature take its course and clean up after the frost or the freeze.”
Others are being proactive and cleaning up some annual plants and tomato vines before the freeze because it’s a little less messy.
People should also unhook any hoses from outdoor faucets, drain them and put them away for winter because they are easier to move around when they are warm.
Those with underground irrigation systems and sprinklers that haven’t been drained yet don’t need to worry about this weekend’s freeze.
“This is just an above-ground freeze,” Patton said. “It’s nowhere near where the soil is going to freeze that it would cause problems with buried shallow water lines.”
People with full rain barrels also don’t need to drain them yet as the water will retain enough heat to keep it from beginning to freeze.
The cold weather actually is beneficial to trees and shrubs because it helps them prepare for the cold of winter. In recent years, winter-hardy plants have been damaged when mild fall temperatures suddenly dropped to the low 20s and teens.
“Having what I call more seasonal weather consistently is actually a good thing,” Patton said.