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Fall Freeze Data For Many New Mexico Cities

The growing season across New Mexico varies considerably, due to the large variation in elevation. The lowest elevations are near 3,000 feet in the far southeast plains (around Jal), while the highest elevations tower above 13,000 feet (Wheeler Peak). The San Juan, Rio Grande, Canadian and Pecos river valleys also affect the growing season, as cold air sinks into the valleys on many fall and winter nights. See the graphic example farther below. To complicate matters, there is often what is called a 'thermal belt' above the cold pool of air in the valley. This is a layer of air that is considerably warmer than farther below in the valley. This thermal belt is usually located near the mid slope of a mountain or more gently sloping terrain. A good example exists around Albuquerque. At the valley floor, temperatures can be ten or more degrees colder than at the Albuuqerque Sunport, while the Sunport will generally be several degrees warmer than the foothills.

A 'freeze' is considered to have occurred whenever the temperature drops to 32 degrees or lower. A growing season is calculated by taking the number of days between the last freeze in the spring and the first freeze in the fall. However, plants or crops do not necessarily follow this rule. A low temperature of 31 or 32 degrees for a short period of time, say less than two hours, probably will not harm most plants or crops. But if the temperaure drops to 28 or 29 degrees for a few hours, most vegetation will be damaged. As a side note, frost can form when a solid surface (like a car or plants) is in contact with the air and the solid surface's temperature drops to 32 degrees or colder. The extent of the frost depends on how much moisture is in the air. If the temperature is above 32 degrees and there is enough moisture in the air, then dew (a liquid) forms instead of frost (a solid).

The graphic below displays freeze data for locations across New Mexico, including the earliest, latest and median (average) freeze dates. Place your cursor over a location to view the data. For a tabular view of the same data shown below, click here. For an even more extensive list of freeze dates for around 400 locations across the state, click here.

Map of New Mexico With Locations Freeze Dates
The table below shows the average, earliest and latest fall freeze (32 degrees or colder) dates for locations around the Albuquerque metro area, as well as the first freeze date in recent years.

Dates of the First Fall Freeze Around the Albuquerque Metro Area

Location Elev. (ft) Early Average Late 2013 2012 2011 2010

Sunport
(1931-2013)

5300 OCT 8,
1976
OCT 31 NOV 22,
2007
OCT 31
OCT 27
NOV 3
OCT 28
Foothills (1991-2013) 6120 SEP 25,
2000
OCT 18 NOV 20,
2001
OCT 17
OCT 26
OCT 8
OCT 26
S. Valley (1948-2013) 4955 SEP 4,
1961
OCT 19 NOV 2,
2000
OCT 6
OCT 27 OCT 28 OCT 26
Los Lunas (1957-2013) 4840 SEP 19,
2006
OCT 14
NOV 9,
1983
SEP 28
OCT 20
OCT 8
OCT 26
Corrales
(1986-2013)
5015 SEP18,
2006
OCT 9
OCT 24,
2005
OCT 5
OCT 18
OCT 27
OCT 1

The table below reveals the average number of days for the growing season around the Albuquerque metro area (average number of days between the last freeze in the spring and first freeze in the autumn each year.) 

Average Growing Season Albuquerque Metro Area

Location Average Days
Sunport 200
South Valley 181
Foothills 175
Los Lunas 165
Bernalillo 163
Sandia Park 150

Yearly growing season charts for the Albuquerque Sunport and Los Lunas illustrate how the effects of elevation and terrain can affect the growing season. The Los Lunas site is located at a lower elevation (about 500 feet lower than the Sunport) in the Rio Grande Valley, and cold air drainage causes lower early morning temperatures. This typically results in a shorter growing season near the valley floor.

Growing Season Albuquerque

Growing Season Los Lunas

 


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