ATLANTA — A late-season freeze will overtake the Atlanta area early Friday morning with temperatures dropping down to the low 30s.
Many flowers are already in bloom across north Georgia. Daffodils have come and passed, tulips are just getting to their prime, azaleas are opening up, and flowering trees are plentiful.
As opposed to potted plants that are easy to bring inside, you'll have to do what you can to protect these other outdoor blooms from the freeze expected tonight.
In Atlanta, we're predicting the temperature to drop down to the freezing mark for less than two hours right around sunrise Friday morning. In the Atlanta suburbs, the temperatures could be at or below freezing for three to six hours early Friday morning.
Amanda Bennett, Vice President of Horticulture and Collections with the Atlanta Botanical Garden, says that especially in the suburbs of Atlanta, you'll want to take extra steps this evening to protect those tender blooms from the bite of the cold.
"The easiest thing you can do is use a sheet to cover these sensitive blooms. This will keep the bite off them."
Bennett says that if you don't take these cold-weather precautions, your garden may look a little different tomorrow morning. "Tulip stems will be bent over like a swan neck. This is their cold-weather response. Any camellias still in bloom could snap off from the cold. Luckily hydrangeas haven't all opened up yet, but you could still end up with burn foliage if the temperature is below freezing for long enough outside the city."
As for the naming of this cold snap, that's still debatable. Farmers and those in agriculture have long used terms like 'blackberry winter', 'redbud winter', and 'dogwood winter' to describe late-season cold snaps after the growing season has begun. Atlanta's average last freeze is March 23rd, but it's later for the suburbs and north Georgia mountains.
The naming of these 'little winters' differ based on the growing season in each area and when those particular plants are typically in bloom. Generally, a Redbud Winter happens with a cold snap in late March to early April when redbuds are in bloom. A Dogwood Winter would be a cold snap a little later in the season when the native dogwood trees are in bloom.
As for this cold snap, you could make the case for this being either a Redbud Winter or Dogwood Winter, as both are near peak. Bennet says "Both the redbuds and dogwoods are in full bloom and as beautiful as ever right now".
If you're wondering when it's safe to plant new warm-weather blooms, the best practice in the Atlanta area is to wait until mid-April or Tax Day, April 15th. After then, it's much more uncommon to have a late-season freeze or frost.
Want to share photos of your flowers in bloom and our ever-changing weather in Georgia? Join our 11 Alive Community StormTrackers Facebook Group! Photos of the redbuds and dogwoods in this story are from some of our 11 Alive Community StormTrackers.