Originally created 11/18/02

Residents prepare yards for first possible freeze



Armed with a rake and insulated drink holders, Susan and Mark McBeath, of North Augusta, prepared Sunday to battle the area's first possible freeze.

"There are some people that will go out and buy pine straw or wood chips and put it on the flower bed, but I just use what Mother Nature gave me," said Mrs. McBeath, who raked leaves from her yard over flower beds to serve as a makeshift blanket against the imminent freezing weather.

Meanwhile, Mr. McBeath used insulated drink holders to cover outdoor water faucets so they wouldn't burst during Sunday's overnight temperature plunge.

Dan Miller, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in West Columbia, S.C., said the McBeaths prepared just in time.

"If we do have temperatures hitting 32 (this morning or tonight), that would be the first freeze of the season," he said.

Sunday's high was 56, with a morning low of 45. By Sunday evening, the temperature had dropped to the low 40s and would keep falling throughout the night.

Mr. Miller said this fall's first freeze is coming about two weeks later than normal. The South, he said, can thank El Nino for the prolonged higher temperatures.

"We are experiencing some affect from the El Nino," he said, noting that the system typically brings above-average precipitation and, in turn, higher temperatures to the South. The last El Nino, he said, occurred in 1997-98.

A cold-air mass from Canada, which is bringing drier and colder conditions to the Augusta area this week, is in opposition to El Nino.

"It's kind of ironic that we're talking about El Nino bringing wet conditions, but we're entering a dry period for the next week," Mr. Miller said.

WEATHER FORECAST

TODAY: Clear skies with highs in the upper 50s and lows in the low to middle 30s.

TUESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY: Fair skies with highs in the low to mid-60s and lows in the mid- to upper 30s.

Reach Preston Sparks or Sara Bancroft at (706) 724-0851.