By Errol Castens
TUPELO – Hello, winter.
Northeast Mississippi areas that haven’t yet had their first killing frost are expected to see that situation change tonight.
As early as this afternoon, a cold blast of Arctic air is expected to push through the region, dropping temperatures in some parts into the 30s before nightfall. Overnight lows are expected to hit the mid-20s over most of the region, accompanied by 5- to 15-mph winds that push chill factors into the mid-teens.
“A widespread hard freeze is expected in most locations, and this should end the 2013 growing season in all portions of the Mid-South,” said the National Weather Service in Memphis.
Wednesday night isexpected to be even colder, with minimum temperatures bottoming out around 24 degrees in Tupelo and as low as 20 near Corinth.
Dr. Lelia Kelly, horticulturist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said this will put an end to summer crops.
“If you have green tomatoes or peppers, you need to go ahead and get them out of the garden and process them,” she said.
The fast plunge from Monday’s warmth to Wednesday’s hard freeze threatens traditional winter crops such as mustard, turnips, kale and collards.
“If we have a tremendous drop in 24 hours, that’s the kind of thing that can really damage even cold-hardy crops,” Kelly said.
She also noted that row cover or even bedsheets can provide several degrees of protection for garden crops or ornamentals.
Weather Service forecaster Andy Chiuppi said this week’s round of cold weather is temporary and that typical winter patterns don’t usually start until early to mid-December.
“We are in the transition part before winter really starts,” he said. “By next weekend we should see warm temperatures again. November is a time of transition from fall to winter; it’s also our second severe weather season because of that transition.”