Warm and humid Sunday, rain on the way Tuesday

The Weather Authority

The clouds drifted into the Tennessee Valley Saturday afternoon, but they didn’t put a damper on our afternoon temperatures! Thermometers at Huntsville International Airport reached 78 degrees Saturday, and they reached the mid-70s in The Shoals.

Expect a partly to mostly cloudy sky for Sunday morning, with cool temperatures in the low to mid 50s. Sunday afternoon will feature a mix of sun and clouds, and a brief isolated rain shower is possible, but overall dry conditions will prevail through Sunday evening. Afternoon temperatures will climb to the mid to upper 70s again, which is about 5-7 degrees above average.

Rain on the way late Monday into Tuesday

Our next rain-maker approaches late Monday and arrives Tuesday, with the bulk of the rain showers occurring during late morning into early Tuesday afternoon.

While rain showers will be widespread Tuesday, the actual precipitation amounts are trending downwards — only about 0.2″ to 0.4″ through Wednesday morning. This is a good trend to see, since the Tennessee Valley is already 10-14″ above average, year-to-date, so heavy rainfall would be unwelcome.

Still, rain is a *good* thing, considering April serves as the beginning of the growing season, and a gentle rain would encourage young seedlings and crops to grow before the summer heat arrives.

Average Last Spring Freeze

Temperatures will remain variable over the next few weeks, and a killing frost/freeze is not out of the question.

Average date of last frost for the entire state of Alabama. (Source: UA Department of Geography)
Average date of last frost for the entire state of Alabama. (Source: UA Department of Geography)

Keep in mind that cold-sensitive plants, like tomatoes, do not do well even if the air temperature is above 32 degrees (gardenguides.com says that tomato plants can get injured when temperatures are in the low 40s).  Even in sheltered areas, like covered porches, chilly temperatures can harm sensitive plants. Be sure to have a way of bringing them inside, or develop a way to protect them if they are already established in the soil. Morning lows in the 40s are possible heading into next weekend.

The “usual” rule of thumb is to wait until after Easter to put your sensitive plants in the ground — but sometimes, Easter arrives early, much earlier than the average final frost for the region.

So if you haven’t started your spring garden yet, try to hold off until mid-to-late April. A good rule of thumb is to wait until after Tax Day (April 15).  Some say you should wait until May 1 to be safe.

Average Last Freeze for North Alabama

It’s okay to plant cool season crops now, such as collards, lettuces, onions and kale.

According to the National Weather Service, the average “last freeze” date for the Huntsville area is April 2, though the latest freeze on record took place on May 7, 1944. The average date fluctuates throughout the Tennessee Valley, but April 15th is a good, rough guideline. Below is a list of various average dates for last freezes throughout the Tennessee Valley.

SpringDate

A personal (brown thumb) storyWhen I lived in Atlanta, I used to grow container vegetables in my back porch area. During the spring of 2007, we had a very early and very prolonged period of spring-like weather in late February through March. I put my tomatoes into the containers in mid March… And the first week of April, we had a cold snap that sent temperatures below freezing. I lost my tomatoes :-/ And I learned the hard way to wait until Tax Day :-)What about you? Do you have any green thumb tips, or brown thumb stories? Email us: weather@whnt.com.

– Christina Edwards

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