OGDEN — The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook Thursday afternoon officially announcing the first hard freeze for urban areas in Northern Utah.
NWS meteorologist Eric Schoening said Ogden residents can expect high temperatures to reach 48 degrees Saturday of 48 degrees and a low Saturday night into Sunday morning of 30 degrees.
“We had a cold front come in yesterday, and this one is coming in Friday night and will be even stronger,” Schoening said. “There won’t be a lot of precipitation with it. There may be some light rain — it maybe even change to snow in the valleys — but in general, the precipitation will stay north of Utah other than a dusting in the mountains. It will be cold Saturday morning after the front, and it will be even colder Sunday morning after the skies clear and the wind calms down a bit.”
It will be the coldest air Utah has experienced so far this season, Schoening added.
“Some of the outlying areas have already seen a freeze this year, but for urban areas, this will be the first freeze of the fall season,” Schoening said. “If you still have any kind of garden going on, you definitely have to prep to either do something to protect it, or, in many cases, end your garden for the season and pick off any tomatoes or fruit you want to bring inside.”
Schoening recommended bringing pets and other items that may be sensitive to colder temperatures inside during the cold front.
“As far as true freezing temperatures go, it will only be a one-night occurrence,” Schoening said. “We tend to have a lot of these cold fronts that cool us down and bring us into freezing temperatures, and then we have a warm up to more pleasant, room temperature-like temps in the afternoon, which is what we’re going to see heading into the middle of next week. By the time you get into Monday through Wednesday, we’ll see highs in the low to mid 60s for the Ogden area.”
In preparation for the upcoming winter season, experts suggest “winterizing” yards and gardens.
Mike Pace, the Brigham City horticulturist with the Utah State University Extension Service, suggests making sure trees and shrubs aren’t stressing about water going into the winter. A thirsty tree is more susceptible to diseases and pests.
Britney Hunter, horticulturist for the Utah State University Extension Service in Davis County, agreed, recommending letting your sprinkler run for approximately an hour, soaking down eight to 10 inches. Important roots are also near the edge of the tree’s canopy, so don’t just water against the tree’s trunk.
Also make sure your trees get that drink before the leaves come off. Once they’re gone, the wicking action that draws water and nutrients up through the roots has ceased to operate.
Another tip is to use the lawnmower’s lowest setting for the last cut of the season in late October or early November because, if grass is long and “lays over” with snow atop it, it can become matted and develop diseases — especially snow mold, Pace says.
Two things yard and garden owners should not do is prune trees unless it’s an emergency and fail to rake up leaves. Pruning stimulates new growth, at a time when trees should be going dormant. If there are broken branches hanging down or a tree is diseased, get that taken care of, Pace says.
When in doubt about a potentially house-damaging tree, Hunter recommends getting an expert to look at it. Visit UtahUrbanForest.org to find a list of certified arborists.
And once the leaves finally do come off the trees, make sure you rake, mow or vacuum them up so they don’t smother the lawn. But don’t just send them to the landfill, horticulturists advise; they’re valuable for improving the soil, and easy to compost.