Ask Storm Team 11: Mini winters in spring

Weather

Tuesday’s Ask Storm Team 11 question comes from Josh Delph. He asked: “Have we started the mini winters yet like blackberry and dogwood?”

Spring is such a transition period for our area. We go from 80s and thunderstorms to occasional freezes and frosts.

Before weather forecasts became more common on air and online, farmers and gardeners looked around for signs of more cold weather to come. Generations of folklore and journaling suggested common patterns almost every year when it came to our late season cold weather in east Tennessee and even southwest Virginia. 

They would note when trees and flowers would bloom before planting sensitive crops that could get damaged by cold weather.

Here are the 3 of the most common mini winters and how they can disrupt those with eager green thumbs every year:

Redbud Winter comes at the end of March or first part of April as the beautiful redbud trees bloom. This year, it came in the first few days of April so we can check that one off. We had two nights in the 20s!

Dogwood Winter is next. It usually occurs around the third or fourth week of April as the dogwood trees bloom. 

Blackberry Winter is our last main mini winter around mid May as, you guessed it, the blackberries are in full bloom.

From year to year these can vary a bit.

I’ve had many people tell me their parents or grandparents told them not to plant fruit, vegetables or other sensitive plants until Mother’s Day or around May 10. Either way, those folks are onto something. 

Often these mini winters coincide with coincide with a good frost in our region. 

The median last freeze in the Tri-Cities is around April 15. However, our last frost is usually sometime around May 1. It is a good two to three weeks later in the mountains.

You don’t want to plant tender vegetation until after these dates!

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