the orange gardener

0–1 minute read

Frost vs. freeze

Although the terms frost and freeze are often interchanged, they describe two distinct phenomena. An advective freeze is windborne & occurs when a cold air mass moves into an area bringing freezing temperatures. Radiation frost occurs when a clear sky and calm winds (less than 5 mph) allow an inversion to develop, and temperatures near the surface drop below freezing.

FeatureFrostFreeze
Wind<5 mph>5 mph
Skyclearclouds may exist
Cold air mass depth30–200 ft500–5000 ft
Inversionyesno
Cold air drainageyesno
Protectionlikely successfullimited success

Types of radiation frost

Hoar frost

White frost occurs when atmospheric moisture freezes onto solid surfaces as small crystals without first condensing as dew.

Black frost

Black frost, where few or no ice crystals form, occurs when the air temperature is below freezing but above the dew point (the temperature to which air must be cooled to cause atmospheric moisture to condense). The drier the air, the lower the dew point.