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First hard frost bites in Fairbanks

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Posted: Sunday, September 9, 2012 12:05 am

FAIRBANKS — Gardeners grieved and early morning drivers scrambled to find their ice scrapers Saturday morning when they awoke to the first hard frost of the season in Fairbanks.

The temperature fell below freezing at Fairbanks International Airport for the first time this season early Saturday morning.

The mercury dipped below the 32-degree mark just after midnight. It was the first time since May 18 — a span of 112 days — that the temperature hit the freezing mark at the airport.

The low temperature at the airport was 29 degrees just before 8 a.m.

So does this mean summer is officially over?

“It feels like it,” said Anna Ramsburgh at The Plant Kingdom Greenhouse and Nursery off Farmers Loop.

Ironically, the greenhouse was already scheduled to close on Saturday before the frost hit.

“We’re closing up shop today,” Ramsburgh said. “It seems like good timing.”

The first freezing temperature of the fall was almost right on schedule. The average date of the first frost at the airport is Sept. 7.

The lowest temperature at any of the National Weather Service’s more than two dozen observation sites around the Fairbanks area was 22 degrees at Goldstream Creek in the Goldstream Valley.

Ramsburgh, who lives in the Goldstream Valley, said it frosted harder at her house than it did at The Plant Kingdom. Most of the flowers still in the ground at the greenhouse still looked pretty good, she said.

Ann Dolney at Ann’s Greenhouses on Sheep Creek Road in the Goldstream Valley said her flowers “still look pretty good” and workers were digging potatoes on Saturday. She still had some crops like Brussells sprouts and kale in the ground.

“It was pretty cold out here today,” Dolney said.

Any plants that survived Saturday’s frost will be put to the test again during the next several days, meteorologist Bob Fischer at the National Weather Service in Fairbanks said.

Below-freezing temperatures are expected overnight through at least Thursday, he said.

“Some cooler air moved in and it’s going to stick around,” Fischer said. “For much of this week, we’re going to see low temperatures in the upper 20s or lower 30s.”

Highs will be in the upper 40s and lower 50s. That’s a few degrees cooler than normal but nothing out of the ordinary, Fischer said. By the end of this week, the average daily high is 55 and the average low is in the upper 30s, he said.

If summer is indeed over, Dolney said it wasn’t a bad one.

“We had a pretty fair summer,” she said.

•••

The temperature dropped below freezing at Fairbanks International Airport for the first time early Saturday morning. Here are some of the low temperatures reported around the area:

Fairbanks airport — 29

Fort Wainwright — 29

College Observatory — 28

Eielson Air Force Base — 27

Goldstream Creek — 22

Contact staff writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587.

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