Cold morning in forecast: National Weather Service issues first fall frost warning

Eleanore Davis, 10, of Linden, and her dog Joy walk along a wall near the gazebo on East Main Street in Front Royal as maple trees start to shed their colors. Rich Cooley/Daily

The National Weather Service issued a frost advisory for early Tuesday morning when temperatures could sink below the mid 30s.

The advisory spans across much of the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore area and includes Shenandoah, Frederick, Page, Warren and Clarke counties.

Luis Rosa, a senior forecaster for the National Weather Service, said the cold weather could damage sensitive crops still in the ground throughout the Shenandoah Valley.

“Expect basically clear and chilly conditions in the low to upper 30s anywhere west of the Blue Ridge Mountains,” Rosa said.

Since the National Weather Service declared the advisory at 1:30 p.m. Monday, area wine growers have been scrambling to wrap up their wine harvests before the cold weather has its way with the grapes.

Randy Phillips owns Cave Ridge Vineyards in Mount Jackson. He said he and his workers have plucked all the white wines by now but they still have some reds up and can only hope the frost passes.

“We just hope we don’t get the frost,” he said. “We still haven’t harvested our reds because of the weather.”

Wendy De Mello, co-owner of De Mello Vineyards in Mount Jackson, hadn’t heard of the frost advisory when called by The Northern Virginia Daily. She said she and her husband had been planning to pull some of the last of her reds Tuesday, although they would consider pulling them earlier if possible.

She said the vineyard still has most of its cabernet franc and petit verdot grapes on the vine.

Shawn Steffey, owner of Valerie Hill Vineyards in Stephens City, said his harvest is complete.

“We’ve harvested everything, so we don’t have any grapes to worry about,” he said.

For smaller scale farmers, Rosa recommended them to harvest plants and bring them indoors if possible, or to add some kind of heated ventilation to them to stave off the frost.

However, he said it’s ultimately better to sustain a frost in October than in early summer or late spring.

“Right now, I don’t think it’s a big deal like it is if you get a frost in the summertime or in April or May,” he said.

Looking forward, Rosa said the weather for the rest of the week should be quiet without any rain on the horizon for the next five to seven days. He said it will be chilly early on, until it warms up later in the week.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com.