Monday, October 4, 2021

Episode 597 (10-4-21): Anticipating Frost as Fall Settles In

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:08).

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 10-1-21.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of October 4, 2021.  This week, we pause our series of episodes on water connections to the human body, to revisit an episode from fall 2017 that explores one of the hallmarks of the autumn season.

MUSIC – ~ 11 sec – instrumental.

Following the astronomical start of fall on September 22, this episode features 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 to the music for about 25 more seconds.

MUSIC - ~26 sec – instrumental.

You’ve been listening to part of “Cold Frosty Morn’,” performed here by the western Virginia band New Standard.  One of the consequences of fall’s arrival is frost in the mornings and, eventually, a significant enough freeze to end of the growing season, when temperatures fall to about 28 degrees Fahrenheit or below.  That temperature typically occurs for the first time each fall 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.  Those predicted periods are based on historical records through 2010; the typical frost and freeze dates may be shifting as Virginia experiences climate change.

Generally, frost forms when water vapor in the air contacts plants, windows, cars, or other solid surfaces that are at or below water’s freezing point of 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  Some specific kinds of frost include radiation frost, 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 super-cooled liquid water in fog or clouds contacts solid surfaces, such as trees, radio towers, or ships on winter seas.

Frost may seem far away on Virginia’s often mild, early October 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 about 10 more seconds of “Cold Frosty Morn’.”

MUSIC - ~12 sec – instrumental.


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  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.


This Virginia Water Radio episode repeats and replaces Episode 387, 9-25-17.

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  This music was used previously by Virginia Water Radio most recently in Episode 501, 12-2-19.

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, accessed 10-4-21.


Deborah Byrd, “Equinox Sun is Over Earth’s Equator on September 22,” EarthSky, Sept. 22, 2021.

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, “Guide to Frost,” 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

Isaac W. Park et al., “Advancing frost dates have reduced frost risk among most North American angiosperms since 1980,” Global Change Biology 2021, 27: pages 165–176, accessed online at

Sarah Vogelsong, “Autumn’s first frost is falling later. For farmers, the consequences are wide-ranging,” Virginia Mercury, Nov. 3, 2020.

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 frozen or freezing precipitation.

Freezing rain, sleet, and snow – Episode 461, 2-25-19.
Hail – Episode 362, 4-3-17.
Ice – Episode 403, 1-15-18 Episode 404, 1-22-18; Episode 406, 2-5-18; Episode 556, 12-21-20.
Snow – Episode 300, 1-25-16; Episode 407, 2-12-18.

Following are links to some other episodes related to fall.

Fall migratory birds – Episode 183, 10-14-13; Episode 281, 9-14-15; Episode 335, 9-26-16.
Tree colors and changes in fall – Episode 285, 10/9/15.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2018 Science SOLs

Grades K-3 plus 5: Matter
K.4 – Water is important in our daily lives and has properties.
2.3 – Matter can exist in different phases.

Grades K-5: Earth and Space Systems
K.9 – There are patterns in nature.
1.7 – There are weather and seasonal changes; including that changes in temperature, light, and precipitation affect plants and animals, including humans.
2.6 – There are different types of weather on Earth.
2.7 – Weather patterns and seasonal changes affect plants, animals, and their surroundings.
4.4 – Weather conditions and climate effects on ecosystems and can be predicted.

Grade 6
6.3 – There is a relationship between the sun, Earth, and the moon. Key ideas include
6.6 – Water has unique physical properties and has a role in the natural and human-made environment.
6.7 – Air has properties and the Earth’s atmosphere has structure and is dynamic.

Life Science
LS.8 – Change in ecosystems, communities, populations, and organisms over time.

Earth Science
ES.11 – The atmosphere is a complex, dynamic system subject to long-and short-term variations.
ES.12 – The Earth’s weather and climate result from the interaction of the sun’s energy with the atmosphere, oceans, and the land. 

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Grades K-3 Geography Theme
1.6 – Virginia climate, seasons, and landforms.

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

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

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 333, 9-12-16
– on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18
– on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18
– on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18
– on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18
– on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19
– on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20
– on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20
– on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20
– on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.