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First widespread frost may arrive in Interior Alaska this weekend

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Posted: Friday, September 23, 2011 12:18 am | Updated: 1:27 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — The fact that the balmy weather Fairbanksans have been enjoying so far this fall is about to go south doesn’t bum Christine St. Pierre out too much.

“It’s been a beautiful month so I can’t complain,” St. Pierre, a manager at Rosie Creek Farm, said.

But there might be a few people griping before the weekend is over. The unseasonably warm temperatures that Interior residents have been basking in all month are about to get much more seasonal, as in chilly.

“I don’t think it’s going to be above 50 (degrees) on Sunday or Monday, maybe even on Saturday,” meteorologist Scott Berg with the National Weather Service in Fairbanks said.

That’s a far cry from the high of 68 degrees recorded at Fairbanks International Airport on Wednesday and 66 on Tuesday. Through Wednesday, the average temperature for the month of 52.1 degrees was 5.5 degrees above normal, according to meteorologist Bob Fischer. Only two days have seen lower-than-normal temperatures so far this month.

Fairbanks also will likely see its first freezing temperatures of the season this weekend. While it has frosted in some low-lying areas around the Tanana Valley, the coldest temperature recorded at the airport so far this month has been 36 degrees on Sept. 12.

“We possibly could see frost on any day this weekend, almost for sure by Sunday,” Berg said.

This is the sixth year in a row that the first freeze of the season at the airport has occurred later than Sept. 20. The average date of the first frost at the airport is Sept. 7 and the latest first freeze on record at the airport is Sept. 27. Last year the temperature hit 32 at the airport on Sept. 22.

The good news is there is no snow in the forecast for the forseeable future, Berg said.

But a shot of cold air from the northeast this weekend will bring the temperature down into a more normal range for this time of year, he said. The normal high today is 51 degrees and the normal low is 33 degrees.

“We’re going to see a definite change for the weekend,” Berg said. “The temperature was in the high 30s (Thursday) morning and we’re going to knock 10 degrees off that by Saturday morning.”

That likely will mean the end of any flowers or sensitive vegetables, like tomatoes, lettuce and onions, all of which are still growing at Calypso Farm and Ecology Center in Ester, according to Linne Wik. It has yet to frost there, she said.

“We have tons of flowers, sunflowers and lillies,” Wik said. “We’re having our (annual benefit) auction on Saturday so we’ll have a chance to make lots of bouquets for that.”

While it already has frosted a few times at Rosie Creek Farm, St. Pierre said the warm weather this month has “definitely been extending our season.” The farm is still growing salad greens in unheated greenhouses, she said.

Workers pulled most of the remaining outdoor crops out of the field this week, including potatoes, brussels sprouts and cabbages, St. Pierre said.

“We’re getting out the last of the leeks today,” she said.

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