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Tough spring weather for grape growers

This has been a tough year for growing grapes in northern Georgia. Climatologists know that neutral years like this one, when there is no El Nino or La Nina in place, are often years with a lot of ups and downs in temperature, and this has certainly been no exception. You can see that in this thermograph from Blairsville GA, which shows this year’s daily high and low temperatures in gray superimposed on the normal high/low in green and the daily extremes in red (hot) and blue (cold). I drew the 32 F line on here in purple so you could see the frosts.

The thermograph shows that after a fairly warm start to the year (with most days above normal), followed by some frosts in early March, we went through almost a month of above-freezing temperature that were also much warmer than you would usually expect that time of year. I know a lot of you saw your vines growing rapidly during that time, and then getting damaged by a series of frosts in the first half of April as we went through a cold spell. That was followed by another 2-3 week period of above-freezing temperatures before another cold blast from the Arctic came in and gave us more frost in early May. I have not heard yet what additional damage that did to the vines, but I fear the worst. Note that while May frosts don’t happen every year, they come about once every ten years or so at that location, and the record for the last frost date in Blairsville is actually May 31, so technically we are not out of the woods yet. However, the long-range weather forecasts are showing warm conditions through the end of May that I think mean it is unlikely that we will see another frost this spring.

If you are interested in producing a thermograph for a different area, I used https://mrcc.illinois.edu/CLIMATE/ to create this one. You do need to create a free log-in, and then pick your station and pick Daily Observed Data > Monthly > Thermograph from the left menu.