National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Map showing the date of average last spring freeze for a number of locations across SE North Carolina and NE South Carolina.
Willard, NC Castle Hayne, NC Wilmington, NC Southport, NC Elizabethtown, NC Whiteville, NC Longwood, NC Lumberton, NC McColl, SC Dillon, SC Darlington, SC Florence, SC Marion, SC Lake City, SC Kingstree, SC Andrews, SC Georgetown, SC Brookgreen Gardens, SC Conway, SC

Average Date of the Last Spring Freeze

Location Date
Wilmington, NC Mar 18
Castle Hayne, NC Apr 3
Willard, NC Apr 1
Southport, NC Mar 24
Elizabethtown, NC Mar 31
Whiteville, NC Mar 30
Longwood, NC Apr 1
Lumberton, NC Apr 1
Florence, SC Mar 21
Conway, SC Mar 15
Georgetown, SC Mar 12
Brookgreen Gardens, SC Mar 24
McColl, SC Mar 28
Dillon, SC Mar 30
Marion, SC Mar 30
Darlington, SC Mar 26
Lake City, SC Mar 24
Kingstree, SC Mar 27
Andrews, SC Mar 20
Pee Dee, SC Mar 27

The map and table above show the average date of the last Spring Freeze calculated for a number of locations using data from 1950-2010. The actual date of the last freeze can vary tremendously from year to year, sometimes occurring as early as February near the coast and as late as April or even early May inland. The date of the last Spring Freeze determines when cold-sensitive plants (including most annual garden vegetables) can safely be moved outside.
 

 


 

Map showing the date of average first fall freeze for a number of locations across SE North Carolina and NE South Carolina.
Willard, NC Castle Hayne, NC Wilmington, NC Southport, NC Elizabethtown, NC Whiteville, NC Longwood, NC Lumberton, NC McColl, SC Dillon, SC Darlington, SC Florence, SC Marion, SC Lake City, SC Kingstree, SC Andrews, SC Georgetown, SC Brookgreen Gardens, SC Conway, SC

Average Date of the First Fall Freeze

Location Date
Wilmington, NC Nov 16
Castle Hayne, NC Nov 4
Willard, NC Nov 4
Southport, NC Nov 12
Elizabethtown, NC Nov 2
Whiteville, NC Nov 1
Longwood, NC Oct 31
Lumberton, NC Oct 31
Florence, SC Nov 10
Conway, SC Nov 15
Georgetown, SC Nov 22
Brookgreen Gardens, SC Nov 14
McColl, SC Nov 2
Dillon, SC Nov 1
Marion, SC Oct 30
Darlington, SC Nov 4
Lake City, SC Nov 8
Kingstree, SC Nov 2
Andrews, SC Nov 13
Pee Dee, SC Nov 5

The map and table above show the average date of the first Fall Freeze calculated for a number of locations using data from 1950-2010. The actual date of the first freeze can vary tremendously from year to year, sometimes occurring as early as October and as late as December at the coast. The date of the first Fall Freeze determines when cold-sensitive plants (including most annual garden vegetables) need to be moved indoors or harvested.

 


 

Map showing the length of the Growing Season for a number of locations across SE North Carolina and NE South Carolina.
Willard, NC Castle Hayne, NC Wilmington, NC Southport, NC Elizabethtown, NC Whiteville, NC Longwood, NC Lumberton, NC McColl, SC Dillon, SC Darlington, SC Florence, SC Marion, SC Lake City, SC Kingstree, SC Andrews, SC Georgetown, SC Brookgreen Gardens, SC Conway, SC

Average Length of the Growing Season

Location Growing Season Length (Days)
Wilmington, NC 242
Castle Hayne, NC 213
Willard, NC 215
Southport, NC 233
Elizabethtown, NC 213
Whiteville, NC 215
Longwood, NC 210
Lumberton, NC 212
Florence, SC 232
Conway, SC 244
Georgetown, SC 255
Brookgreen Gardens, SC 231
McColl, SC 218
Dillon, SC 214
Marion, SC 213
Darlington, SC 223
Lake City, SC 227
Kingstree, SC 218
Andrews, SC 238
Pee Dee, SC 222

The map and table above show the average length of the Growing Season calculated for a number of locations using data from 1950-2010. The actual length of the Growing Season can vary tremendously from year to year, sometimes totalling less than 200 days in a cold year to nearly 300 days along the coast in a particularly warm year. The Growing Season begins after the final Spring Freeze has occurred, and runs until the first freeze occurs in the Fall. The number of days in the Growing Season can help determine what plants can be grown in a particular climate. Growing Season length is also useful in comparing climates from different areas, or even from the same area over different times.


 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What should I plant in my garden this year based on this information?

North Carolina State University and Clemson University have put together excellent State-specific resources for various garden vegetables including varieties and times needed to mature for harvest: NCSU Planting Guide, and Clemson Planning a Garden

Note that even in the coldest years in Eastern North or South Carolina there is plenty of time in the Growing Season to grow virtually any type of garden vegetable. Drought or extreme heat are normally much larger concerns for farmers and gardeners.

 

Why does the date of the last Spring Freeze (or first Fall freeze) vary so much from place to place?

Many factors determine how much nighttime temperatures vary from place to place. It's worth mentioning first of all that there are two types of freeze events: an advective freeze, and a radiational freeze. An advective freeze occurs when strong winds (usually northwest or north winds) bring cold air into the region. Since winds continue blowing through night any small-scale temperature variations are evened out quickly. Temperatures vary only a little from place to place during an advective freeze. On nights when skies are clear and winds are calm, a very different event occurs called a radiational freeze. On these nights microclimates appear where temperatures can vary widely from neighborhood to neighborhood, or even from your frontyard to your backyard. Differences in tree cover and vegetation, proximity to water, slope and elevation, and even soil type help create these temperature differences.

Soil type and proximity to water seem to have the most impact here in the Eastern Carolinas. Peat or mixed-peat/sand soils like are found in Carolina Bays and pocosin swamps produce the coldest nights and shortest growing seasons. Proximity to water (ocean, or large rivers and lakes) often provides locally warmer temperatures, extending the Growing Season length.

 

Are the first and last dates for freezing temperatures changing?

Thoughout the period 1950 through 2010 most stations in the Eastern Carolinas showed increases in the length of the Growing Season caused mainly by later first Fall Freezes. Overall changes in the length of the growing season have been small.  Climate changes over long period that are sometimes difficult to see from the perspective of a human lifespan; observed changes in Growing Season length over the previous 60 years are not guaranteed to continue at the same rate in the future.

 

What is the source of the data used on this website?

For Wilmington, NC and Florence, SC weather observations used in this study were collected at the local airports using climate observations overseen by the National Weather Service. The remainder of the stations used here are part of the NWS Cooperative Observation Program, a network of thousands of volunteer observers who report their highs, lows and daily precipitation to the National Weather Service. Official equipment and training is provided by the National Weather Service to ensure the data collected is high quality. The countless hours of public service volunteered by Cooperative Observers over the years have been invaluable in establishing a more complete picture of the climate of the United States.


Page Author: Tim Armstrong
Page Created: Feb 27, 2012
Last Modified: Aug 2, 2015