Monday, September 25, 2017

Episode 387 (9-25-17): Anticipating Frost as Fall Arrives

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (3:44).

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 9-22-17.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of September 25, 2017.

MUSIC – ~ 7 sec

This week, following the recent September 22 arrival of astronomical fall, we feature a fiddle tune named for a water-related weather event that will mark a meteorological fall turning point when it occurs across the Commonwealth in October or November.  Have a listen for about 25 seconds.

MUSIC - ~25 sec

You’ve been listening to part of “Cold Frosty Morn’,” performed here by the western Virginia band New Standard.  One of the eventual consequences of summer’s end is the end of the growing season, marked by the first significant freeze, when temperatures fall to about 28 degrees Fahrenheit or below.  That event, often called a “killing frost,” typically occurs in mid-to-late October in western Virginia, early-to-mid November east of the Blue Ridge, and mid-to-late November in some Virginia coastal areas.

Generally, frost forms when water vapor in the air contacts plants, windows, cars, or other solid objects at a temperature of 32 degrees or less.  Some specific kinds of frost include radiation frost, also called hoarfrost, occurring when surface objects are cooled by radiating their heat; advection frost, occurring when surfaces are cooled by winds; and rime, a dense type of frost that forms when supercooled liquid water in fog or clouds contacts solid surfaces, such as trees, radio towers, or ships on winter seas.

Frost seems far away on Virginia’s mild, late September days.   But to paraphrase a comment about truth from the poem “Birches,” by Robert Frost, frost-producing weather will soon break in with all of its matter-of-fact.

Thanks to New Standard for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with a few more seconds of “Cold Frosty Morn’.”

MUSIC - ~12 sec


For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at, or call us at (540) 231-5463. Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show. In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


The performance of “Cold Frosty Morn’” heard here is copyright by New Standard, from the 2016 album “Bluegrass,” used with permission. More information about New Standard is available online at

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode. More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at


Maps showing frost/freeze dates in the continental United States, based on data from 1980 to 2010. Upper map: ranges of earliest dates of first 32°F freeze; middle map: range of median dates of first 32°F freeze; lower map: range of median dates of first 28°F freeze. Images from the National Weather Service/Northern Indiana Forecast Office, “Frost and Freeze Information,” online at


Robert Frost, The Poetry of Robert Frost, Edward Connery Lathem, ed., Holt, Rineheart and Winston, New York, 1969.  The quote to which this episode refers, from “Birches” on page 121, is the following:
“But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter of fact about the ice storm….”

Kenneth G. Libbrecht/California Institute of Technology, “Guide to Frost,” online at

National Climatic Data Center, “Climatography of the U.S. No. 20, Supplement No. 1/Freeze/Frost Data,” online at

National Weather Service, “Ice Storms,” online at

National Geographic Society, “Frost,” online at

National Geographic Society, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” online at

National Weather Service, Baltimore/Washington Forecast Office, “Watch/Warning/Advisory Definitions,” online at, “Autumnal Equinox—Northern Hemisphere,” online at

WeatherOnline, “Rime,” online at


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above ( See particularly the “Science” and “Weather” subject categories.

Following are links to some other episodes on physical states of water and on some weather phenomena.
Clouds - Episode 377, 7/17/17.
Boiling point - Episode 250, 1/26/15.
Density - Episode 255, 3/2/15.
Fog - Episode 124, 8/20/12
Freezing point - Episode 249, 1/19/15.
Hail - Episode 362, 4/3/17
Ice on a pond - Episode 144, 1/14/13.
Snow and ice physics and chemistry - Episode 199, 2/3/14.
Winter precipitation – Episode 258, 3/23/15 (snd water supplies); Episode 300, 1/25/16 (snow terms).


The episode may help with Virginia 2013 Music SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

This episode may also help with the following Virginia 2010 Science SOLs:

Grades K-6 Earth Patterns, Cycles, and Change Theme
1.7 – changes in temperature, light, and precipitation affect plants and animals, including humans.
2.7 – weather and seasonal changes affecting plants and animals.

Grades K-6 Interrelationships in Earth/Space Systems Theme
2.6 – identification of common storms and other weather phenomena.
4.6 – weather conditions, phenomena, and measurements.

Grades K-6 Matter Theme
6.5 – properties and characteristics of water.
6.6 – Properties of air (including pressure, temperature, and humidity) and structure/dynamics of earth’s atmosphere, including weather topics.

Earth Science Course
ES.12 – weather and climate.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2015 Social Studies SOL:

World Geography Course
WG.2 - how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at

Previous Episodes Designed Especially for Certain K-12 Grade Levels

Episode 249 (1-19-15) - on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade
Episode 250 (1-26-15) - on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255 (3-2-15) - on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282 (9-21-15) - on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309 (3-28-16) - on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 332 (9-12-16) – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.