Fall's first freeze is creeping across the Corn Belt

Summer has given way to fall, and with the new season comes football games, pumpkin spice-flavored foodstuffs and cooler weather. And while most farmers don't mind those cooler temperatures, they'd rather have their crops across the proverbial finish line

before the first killing frost arrives. (Click here

for additional discussion on when corn is "safe from frost" from Purdue University.)

According to data from the Midwest Regional Climate Center (MRCC), about half of the Corn Belt has already caught its first 32ÀöF freeze.

The map is color-coded by when the first 32ÀöF freeze was observed. The smaller black dots (primarily in the eastern Corn Belt) indicate a weather station that has not yet recorded at 32ÀöF freeze this fall.

According to Illinois state climatologist Jim Angel, there are a couple of advisories that are common this time of year, including a frost advisory and a freeze warning. He explains the difference between the two.

"A frost advisory is issued when the minimum temperature is forecasted to be 33 to 26 degrees on clear, calm nights during the growing season," he says. "They are issued in the fall until the end of the growing season, marked by the occurrence of that first widespread freeze. A freeze warning is when significant, widespread freezing temperatures are expected."

Anxious to know if frost is expected in your area? At www.weather.gov, users can look into county-level advisories, including frost advisories and freeze warnings. And at www.agweb.com/weather, users can tap into local weather conditions, weather and climate news and more than a dozen helpful maps that look at growing conditions, soil conditions, precipitation, temperature and more.