Lowlands may see first freeze of fall

Whatcom County residents can expect a few chilly nights this week as the mercury is expected to drop below freezing for the first time this fall.

With overnight lows forecast in the low 30s and high 20s Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, commuters might want to allow extra time to scrape frost from their windshields and gardeners should consider protecting delicate plants. It’s quite a contract after an October that saw warmer than average temperatures and above-normal rainfall, said Jay Neher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle.

Neher said clear skies Monday through Wednesday are bringing a respite from recent rain, but a cold snap is the price that Western Washington residents will pay for a little sun.

“Rainy weather will tend to hold your low temperatures higher,” Neher said.

Neher said the lowest overnight low temperature so far this fall was 39 degrees on Oct. 27. He said historical figures couldn’t indicate whether it’s a record for the latest date for Western Washington’s first freeze.

“We’ve barely been below 40 at night, much less 32,” Neher said. Several evenings in October saw low temperatures in the 50s, he said.

While recent warmth may not be a record, it certainly is unusual.

Neher said October’s average high temperature was 62.8 degrees, compared to a normal 57.9. Overnight lows averaged 49.9 degrees, compared to an average 41.8, he said.

The Bellingham area received 5.57 inches of rain in October, compared with a normal month of 3.68 inches and last year’s 2.17 inches, he said.