historical minimum temperatures for RDU

CasaLester RTP, NC (7b)December 19, 2013

Hopefully everyone is enjoying their Holiday season.

The USDA Zone assignments are based on quite extensive processing of temperature data that involves location pooling and averaging so they lack precise details as to what minimal temperatures can be expected in a given year and how much they would vary from year to year, so an inquiring mind may be interested in looking at the actual historical data.

Even with the many excellent online weather resources, in particular from the NC State Climate Office and National Weather Service, we had troubles finding records of long-term per month historical minima. Most tools show either absolute minima for a given calendar day or short term historical records. However, we recently discovered that the National Climatic Data Center, another unit of NOAA, has long-term monthly summary data available for download.

We used such data for the RDU airport to generate the attached graph that gives more detail about how the actual monthly minimal (as well as maximal) temperatures varied within the last 20 years. (Average min, mean, and max plotted in light lines).

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ncrescue

Interesting and helpful. I think this week we may be posting some interesting lows. I need to go outside and toss more mulch on some of my tender perennials, or I guess I should just plan on growing some new ones this coming season.

Suggle up; stay indoors; stay warm!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 8:11AM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

I agree ncrescue and I wonder, given the wildchild polar jet stream that has been entirely weird for 2 years now, if we are headed (or arrived already) for a less temperate climate with much greater extremes. Not just here in the Carolinas.
To me, the last two years weather extremes have felt distinctly Southern New England but precip. channeled by the wayward jet stream has increased as it draws moisture up from the GOM.
So what I'm planting, planning to plant is going in not as deeply as I might have installed it 20 years ago.
It might require some winter protection to the plant/shrub base but that's to be anticipated.
While I'd love to have some type of greenhouse, what I have is a 2 car oversize garage facing south east and it
serves better than a glasshouse for more insulation from these wild swings in temperatures.

I honestly don't think we can rely on historical data much anymore as it relates to temperatures/rainfall and extremes
because the extremes are becoming more frequent.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 10:11AM
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trianglejohn

I'll add that planning for extremes is next to impossible.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 3:48PM
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ncrescue

Didn't get that extra mulch down before the rains started, so I imagine I will be planting seeds of those tender perennials this spring!

I get so bored when I have to stay indoors. I even started working on my income tax! Gotta be bored to do that!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 3:24PM
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trianglejohn

I got everybody wrapped up and protected the best of my ability except for one extra large Olive tree. It is supposed to be the hardiest of all Olives but I don't think tonights cold is what they had in mind. That tree and the fuzzy kiwis will probably die back at least to the main trunk if not all the way to the ground. If the roots survive they will regrow just fine and in a couple of years I won't even know they ever died back.

I am kinda worried about flower buds on all the fruit trees. It will be a shame to go a whole year without anything to pick.

Thankfully the bulk of my garden can take some cold temps, only a few of them are zone 8 plants.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 7:34PM
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thatcompostguy

I see 9F this morning. Been there for several hours now. I'm more concerned about water lines bursting than plants surviving. I can't be there to unwrap them anyway, so they're on their own.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 9:05AM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

It was 4 degrees here in Fountain Inn, SC this morning at 5AM when I got called in to work and probably colder by sunrise.

I've been busting and freezing my butt at work all morning due to this extreme cold. I work for a waste water company.

My water was fine this morning, I just hope it stays that way, it's a balmy 18 degrees now, in the sun.

Well, lunch break is almost over, got to get back at it!

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 11:52AM
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lsst(7b)

We ended up at 5F here.
I kept my plants wrapped as we did not get above freezing and it is predicted to be 14F tonight.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 8:24PM
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CasaLester RTP, NC (7b)

Attached is the summary graph of the recent cold event at three different weather stations in the area: Raleigh-Durham Airport (KRDU), Lake Wheeler Rd Field Lab (LAKE), and North Durham Water Reclamation Facility (DURH).

Overall, there were 40 hours below freezing and 29 hours below 20F at KRDU.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 11:14AM
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trianglejohn

Well, that data matches what my small cheap thermometer said. I live down the street from the Lake Wheeler Road Field Lab and I wondered if my equipment was accurate since everyone else was talking about it being colder than 10 degrees. I heat the greenhouse with an old wood burning stove so I had to go out and throw wood on the fire every hour and a half, so each time I checked the temps on the way. A roaring fire kept the greenhouse above 45 - so it was all worth it.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 6:14PM
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ncrescue

And today I may lose plants due to flooding. Hope those Cardinal flowers at the lake have good roots!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 6:56PM
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jqpublic(7b/8a Wake County NC)

Its been a crazy stretch of weather here with the cold and then that nasty storm the other day.

As far as the cold is concerned, it was so fascinating to get rain one day and the next day be so cold that the ground is frozen solid under your feet.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 12:57AM
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