Most - but not all - locales escape frost today

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Meteorologist John Darnley would love to say flat out that it's safe for the region's gardeners to move full steam ahead on their Memorial Day plans to plant.

But the prognosticator with the National Weather Service at Pittsburgh, located in Moon, is just a little hesitant about an unqualified backing of the adage that it's safe to set your garden during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

"We've had such a crazy month with such crazy extremes," Mr. Darnley noted.

In fact, early today, a light frost - to be distinguished from a killing frost, Mr. Darnley said - hit the higher elevations of Westmoreland, Somerset and Indiana counties.

And historical records maintained by the National Weather Service show that a killing frost struck the region as late as May 29, 1894.

"I'd really like to say (that it's safe to plant.) I really think we're safe. But..." Mr. Darnley said. Fact is, the weather predictor said the month of May has been downright unpredictable at times.

This month, the temperature highs have ranged from 86 degrees to 51 degrees while the mercury has sunk to lows as varying as 60 degrees to 33 degrees.

It looks like the pattern will continue through the month's end. Mr. Darnley said that, this morning, the low temperature in the region ranged from 35 to 37 degrees with a high for the day predicted at 65 to 68 degrees. But, by Wednesday, temperatures are expected to hit 84.

The take-away message for those anxious to dig in the dirt is this: given that the average date of the latest killing frost is generally April 21, and given that most plants can sustain a light frost, odds are good it's safe to proceed.

But, Mr. Darnley is not handing out any guarantees.

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Karen Kane: or at 724-772-9180.


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