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 down 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 temperature 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.

Map of New Mexico With Locations Freeze Dates
The table below shows the average, earliest and latest 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 Last Spring Freeze Around the Albuquerque Metro Area

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

Sunport
(1931-2009)

5300 MAR 6,
2004
APR 14
MAY 7, 1982 APR 24
APR 3
MAY 2
MAY 1
Foothills (1991-2009) 6120 APR 12, 2005
APR 21
MAY 3,  2008 & 2013
MAY 3
APR 15
MAY 2
MAY 1
S. Valley (1948-2009) 4955 MAR 25, 2006
APR 21
MAY 22, 1962
APR 16
APR 16
MSG
MSG
Los Lunas (1957-2009) 4840 APR 3, 2000
MAY 2
MAY 23, 1975
MAY 3
APR 17
MAY 4
MAY 3
Corrales
(1986-2009)
5015 APR 13, 1990
MAY 6
MAY 27, 1996
APR 24
APR 16
MSG
MSG

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 183
Foothills

176

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

(click to enlarge)


Growing season Los Lunas

(Click to enlarge)

 


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