Weather Temperature Terminology

Things are greening up a bit. I like that. Still, there's something about this time of year, I don't like. The plants I overwintered inside need hardening off. That means lugging them all outside on warm days and lugging them all back in on cold nights.


I was wondering how long I would have to do this. I checked the Internet to see what was the date of the last predicted frost for my zone. I still have many days of lugging.

Getting this information caused a question to come to mind. I was hoping someone might have an answer. Why is it cold weather comes in 'snaps', and hot weather comes in 'waves' and 'spells'?

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February 24, 20170 found this helpful

A cold snap is a sudden and brief period of cold weather. A snap of the fingers is sudden and brief, too.

A heat "wave" is an extended period of hot weather. It starts hot, then gets hotter and hotter, before it cools down slowly. An ocean wave starts small, then swells up, then gets smaller again.

Hope this helped.

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February 25, 20170 found this helpful

Yes, it did help, but now I'm curious about what would be called an out of the ordinary, extended cold period. A cold wave?


...and why they are called apartments when they're all stuck together.

...and why you drive on a parkway and park on a driveway.

I'm so confused.

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February 25, 20170 found this helpful

I usually wait until the weather is nice to put my over wintered plants back out. The only ones I try to harden off is the ones I start from seed or buy early in 6 packs.

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February 26, 20171 found this helpful

Since I live in almost central Florida most of my plants stay outside so "hardening off" is not a problem for me (just occasional cold spells that require protection).
But you present an interesting question - weather terms we hear all the time but probably never give them any real thought.

I liked Judy's answer but I wondered about "spells" and here is what I came up with:


A short, indefinite period of time.
A period of weather of a particular kind: a dry spell.
I also thought about wave and decide a short answer might be; an extended area and maybe moving relatively slowly.

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February 27, 20170 found this helpful

there's probably somthing semi metaphorical/ poetic about it too.

Aside from being sudden, cold makes things sharp, it cuts through you, it makes everything jerky, etc. THings become brittle and then snap, especially when they freeze

whereas heat makes everything slow, dizzy, dazed, and, especially in the South, everything seems suspended in asphyziating particles of heat.

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February 27, 20170 found this helpful

I'm sure you're right. When one speaks of 'spending a lazy afternoon', you can pretty much know they're talking about a time in any season other than winter.



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