published Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Cold weather returning to Chattanooga area

  • photo
    Charmaine Yount, an employee at the Barn Nursery, moves plants from outside into a protected shelter Monday to protect them from freezing temperatures expected to hit the area Tuesday night.
    Photo by Doug Strickland.
    enlarge photo

It was summerlike warm Saturday and Sunday, wet and windy Monday and today and now comes a possibly record-breaking cold snap on Wednesday.

“It’s almost like a setup,” said Paul Barys, WRCB-TV3 chief meteorologist. “A really warm weekend and then a freeze.”

Everything blooming is in danger. Take pictures of your beautiful budding azaleas because you might not see them again, he said.

Tomatoes and peppers are doomed, Barys said. Tougher plants like spinach and onions may survive. All fruit trees now in bloom are in danger.

Just cover up your blossoms and tender plants, cover them good and hope for the best, he said.

“It’s not going to be good,” he added.

The curve ball Mother Nature is throwing the region is an anticipated record-breaking cold front coming through today. By Wednesday low temperatures will hit 30 degrees in the city. It could dip into the 20s in the surrounding areas.

The expected high Wednesday is 64, according to WRCB’s seven-day forecast.

The record low for April 16 is 31 degrees set in 1975, said meteorologist Shawn O’Neil with the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tenn.

Hopefully, today’s high winds will remain and prevent a hard freeze. As long as the wind is blowing, the air won’t settle, but if the wind calms, all of the cold air will drop and the freeze is inevitable.

“It’s crazy,” said Lynn Gardner, Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel’s guest services representative. “We’ve got all four seasons in one week.”

People who have allergies and asthma are suffering from high pollen and quick weather changes, said Blake Ayers, the Choo Choo’s front desk clerk.

Theresa Smith, a 16-year landscaping assistant with the Choo Choo, said she knew of the looming danger and felt like she was in a scary movie last weekend seeing dozens of people work in the yard.

“No. Not yet. Not yet,” she said she wanted to yell as she watched them plant flowers and vegetables.

Smith said the Farmers Almanac warns that the last freeze date is April 15 and that gardeners should avoid planting before then But she knew from experience the heart break of losing hundreds of dollars in landscaping.

She said she once lost a yard full of impatiens during a freeze. She covered them and nurtured them as best as she could, but they never recovered.

People get anxious to plant because they have spring fever, she said. They’ve been cooped in through a long winter. They get a great weekend and they want to plant flowers and play in the yard, but “you’ve got to wait for it,” she said.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or 757-6431.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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