Freeze Warning issued for Southwest and Central Virginia; how to protect plants, pets, and pipes

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ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — After experiencing a period of seasonal spring-like weather, colder air is working its way back into Southwest and Central Virginia this Wednesday into Thursday.

A Freezing Warning will go into effect at midnight until 9 a.m. on Thursday, April 22. Overnight and morning temperatures will range from the low 30s and into the mid to upper 20s.

These cold conditions could harm and kill sensitive and budding vegetation and crops. Clare Jackson, the owner of New Leaf Farms, told WFXR News that the freeze on Mother’s Day last year caused a lot of damage.

Here are a few tips to protect, and potentially save, plants during a late-season cold snap:

  • Cover plants and gardens: Covering plants with bedsheets or blankets can help keep warm air from the ground around the plant. These coverings act like insulation and give plants just enough warmth. Plastic covering can be used, but do not let the plastic touch the plants. The plastic will transfer the cold and injure the plant where it touches the plastic. If using plastic as a covering, use stakes or hoops to keep the material off of the plants
  • Water thoroughly before covering: Before you cover your plants, make sure to water them. Water also acts as an insulator and helps to retain warmth around the plants.
  • Avoid “cooking” plants: While covering plants can protect against freezing temperatures and frost, you’ll want to make sure to take the coverings off once the temperatures start to warm back up. Leaving the sheets or blankets on for too long after the sun comes up can cause temperatures to go up under the coverings and “cook” your plants. Remove coverings once the sun comes up and place them back over your plants if frost or freezing conditions are expected for the next night.
  • Bring in potted plants: If you have potted plants that can be easily moved into a garage or inside a house, go ahead and bring them inside. This is the easiest way to protect potted plants from cold temperatures.

Due to breezy conditions in the forecast, it may be difficult to keep coverings on plants.

“The main thing is this wind. It’s going to be very hard to keep things covered. So you may have to weigh down a bucket with a brick or something,” Jackson explained. “If you’ve planted a bunch of stuff you’re going to be a bit more challenged. If you can bring it in… it’s just in pots still just bring it right on straight in.”

Remember to remove coverings once the sun comes up to avoid “cooking” your plants. Place the coverings back over your plants if frost or freezing conditions are expected for the next night.

The colder weather not only poses a threat to plants. Pets can also be impacted by freezing temperatures.

It’s recommended that pet owners bring their furry friends inside when the weather gets too cold.

In Virginia, leaving animals tethered outside during extreme weather is illegal. Experts recommend providing adequate, insulated shelters raised off the ground, as well as dressing your dog in a sweater for warmth.

Pipes can freeze in sub-freezing temperatures. To prevent them from freezing and bursting:

  • Consider installing pipe insulation. When insulating your water system, pay attention to pipes in unheated, interior spaces of your home, such as in your attic, garage, or basement.
  • Periodically open your sink cabinets to keep warm air circulating the plumbing.
  • Let your water faucets drip: The running water will create some friction inside the pipes which will make it harder for them to freeze.

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