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Freeze Data For Many New Mexico Cities

The growing season across New Mexico varies considerably, due to the large variation in elevation. The lowest elevations are near 3,000 feet in the far southeast plains (around Jal), while the highest elevations tower above 13,000 feet (Wheeler Peak). The San Juan, Rio Grande, Canadian and Pecos river valleys also affect the growing season, as cold air sinks into the valleys on many fall and winter nights. See the graphic example farther below. To complicate matters, there is often what is called a 'thermal belt' above the cold pool of air in the valley. This is a layer of air that is considerably warmer than farther down in the valley. This thermal belt is usually located near the mid slope of a mountain or more gently sloping terrain. A good example exists around Albuquerque. At the valley floor, temperatures can be ten or more degrees colder than at the Albuuqerque Sunport, while the Sunport will generally be several degrees warmer than the foothills.

A 'freeze' is considered to have occurred whenever the temperature drops to 32 degrees or lower. A growing season is calculated by taking the number of days between the last freeze in the spring and the first freeze in the fall. However, plants or crops do not necessarily follow this rule. A low temperature of 31 or 32 degrees for a short period of time, say less than two hours, probably will not harm most plants or crops. But if the temperature drops to 28 or 29 degrees for a few hours, most vegetation will be damaged. As a side note, frost can form when a solid surface (like a car or plants) is in contact with the air and the solid surface's temperature drops to 32 degrees or colder. The extent of the frost depends on how much moisture is in the air. If the temperature is above 32 degrees and there is enough moisture in the air, then dew (a liquid) forms instead of frost (a solid).

The graphic below displays freeze data for locations across New Mexico, including the earliest, latest and median (average) freeze dates. Place your cursor over a location to view the data. For a tabular view of the same data shown below, click here.

Map of New Mexico With Locations Freeze Dates
The table below shows the average, earliest and latest freeze (32 degrees or colder) dates for locations around the Albuquerque metro area, as well as the last freeze date in recent years.

Dates of the Last Spring Freeze Around the Albuquerque Metro Area

Location Elev. (ft) Early
Average
Late 2016 2015 2014 2013

Sunport
(1931-2015)

5300 MAR 6,
2004
APR 16 MAY 7, 1982

MAR 31

APR 17 MAR 24 APR 24
Foothills (1991-2014) 6120 MAR 29, 2014 APR 25 MAY 3, 2013 MSG MSG MAY 29 MAY 3
S. Valley (1948-2015) 4955 MAR 25, 2006 APR 20 MAY 22, 1962 APR 19 APR 17 APR16 APR 16
Los Lunas (1957-2015) 4840 APR 3, 2000 MAY 2 MAY 23, 1975 APR 27 APR 20 MAY 15 MAY 3
Corrales
(1986-2013)
5015 APR 13, 1990 MAY 4 MAY 27, 1996 APR 19 MSG MSG APR 24

 

The table below reveals the average number of days for the growing season around the Albuquerque metro area (average number of days between the last freeze in the spring and first freeze in the autumn each year.)

Average Growing Season Albuquerque Metro Area

Location Average Days
Sunport (since 1931) 194
South Valley 184
Foothills (inactive) 176
Los Lunas 165
Rio Rancho 192
Sandia Park (inactive) 143

 

Yearly growing season charts for the Albuquerque Sunport and Los Lunas illustrate how the effects of elevation and terrain can affect the growing season. The Los Lunas site is located at a lower elevation (about 500 feet lower than the Sunport) in the Rio Grande Valley, and cold air drainage causes lower early morning temperatures. This typically results in a shorter growing season near the valley floor.

Growing Season Albuquerque

(click to enlarge)

Growing season Los Lunas

(Click to enlarge)