SPRINGFIELD, Mo- The first cold snap is setting into the Ozarks for the first freeze of the season. A freeze warning is issued when significant, widespread freezing temperatures are expected during the growing season. According to data between 1981-2010 from the National Weather Service, Springfield, on average, experiences the first freeze on October 20. The earliest freeze was September 24, 1989, at 32 degrees, and the latest freeze was November 11, 1998, at 29 degrees. Springfield is behind 15 days of the average first freeze.

A Freeze Warning is in effect for a majority of the Ozarks until Thursday at 9 AM, including Nixa, Rolla, Ozark, Springfield, and Bolivar. Tonight Springfield is expected to drop to 32 degrees. A Freeze Watch is in effect for Washington and Benton Counties Arkansas until Thursday morning.

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Some things to remember before the freezing temperatures are to winterize the sprinkler system, unhook hoses and insulate hydrates, seal up foundation vents, change furnace filters and turn on the thermostat!

If you have a furnace, make sure to clean off the burners to avoid an unpleasant dusty smell throughout the house. Make sure to clean the chimney from debris, soot buildup, and even small animals. Test safety monitors such as smoke, radon, and carbon monoxide detectors. Check for smells or noises when you turn on the furnace for the first time.

Remember to protect your body too by wearing a jacket and pants! If you have a green thumb, don’t forget to bring your plants inside. If you have a garden and can’t bring them inside, here are some tips!

Mulch the soil! Mulching can help hold heat and protect the roots of the plants, and mulch can also help preserve soil moisture. Another helpful suggestion is to cover plants with a blanket that drapes to the ground. Anchor the blanket with rocks, bricks, or soil to keep the wind out and allow heat retention. Don’t cover plants with plastic because plant parts that touch plastic during a freeze will likely be damaged. This is because the plastic can hold moisture against plant tissues, which causes more serious freeze damage, which could be worse than no protection. If rain isn’t in the forecast, you should water plants thoroughly because moist ground stays warmer than dry ground. Watering the night before a freeze will insulate the root structure of the grass and plants, decreasing the potential for cold injury.