The National Weather Service has issued a Freeze Warning for most of East Tennessee, with the exception of the TN Valley between the Cumberland Plateau and the Smoky Mountains, for tonight.
The warning takes effect at midnight and continues until 10 a.m. Saturday morning.
Freeze warnings are issued when temperatures are expected to drop below freezing, to as low as 29 degrees.
The NWS forecast for Oneida indicates that a hard freeze could occur, with the temperature forecast to bottom out at 27 degrees.
Light freeze are sufficient to kill young crops, blooming flowers and similar sensitive plants. However, hard freezes are where more substantial damage starts to occur, including to foliage and fruit trees.
Frost may or may not occur Friday night; while temperatures will be supportive of frost formation, a light northwest breeze is expected to persist through the overnight hours, which could help prevent frost formation on the northern Cumberland Plateau, except for sheltered low-lying areas. Still, with temperatures expected to fall below freezing, frost will not be needed to create damage.
By the time daybreak nears Saturday morning, temperatures in Scott County may be the coldest on record for the date. The record low in Oneida is 29 degrees, set in 1976.
Already, at least one temperature record is expected to fall by Friday night. The record low daytime temperature in Oneida for Friday’s date is 62 degrees, set in 2012. The temperature isn’t expected to climb out of the mid 50s during the day on Friday, which would shatter that record. Temperatures in the mid 50s are expected again on Saturday, which would be another record; the coldest afternoon ever recorded in Oneida for the date is 65 degrees, in 2000.
The normal high for this time of year is 74 degrees.
If a hard freeze occurs Friday night, with temperatures dropping to or below 28 degrees, it’ll be the latest hard freeze in Oneida since 1976, when the temperature dropped to 28 degrees on May 20. The average date of the last hard freeze in Oneida is April 12. Since 1960, a hard freeze has occurred in May only five different years — the last in 1984, on May 5.
Growers will face another threat of freezing weather on Saturday night. The current forecast is for temperatures to drop to freezing, at 32 degrees. With calm winds and mostly clear skies, widespread frost is expected overnight into Sunday morning.