The calendar says it's spring, but winter might not have left

March 20, 2014 

  • Chris Bailey's spring forecast

    Colder than normal weather is likely to carry us through April and into early May. This pattern can produce snowflakes in early April for much of our region. This is also likely to be a slow-starting severe-weather season. That's due to the lingering amount of cold weather across the country. I do expect a rapid increase in severe weather in May, which could mean an increase in flash-flood threats.

  • Coldest springs

    1960: 49.7 degrees

    1926, '47: 50.0

    1971: 50.5

    1924: 50.7

    1931: 51.0

    1940, '84, '97: 51.1

    1917: 51.5

    1932: 51.6

    1928, 1961: 51.7

    1892: 51.8

  • Wettest springs

    1997: 24.56 inches

    2011: 23.84"

    1935: 22.12"

    1975: 19.24"

    1973: 18.97"

    2004: 18.95"

    1996: 18.44"

    1961: 18.36"

    1890: 18.21"

    1943: 18.18"

  • Coldest springs

    degrees

    1960 49.7

    1926, '47 50.0

    1971 50.5

    1924 50.7

    1931 51.0

    1940, '84, '97 51.1

    1917 51.5

    1932 51.6

    1928 1961 51.7

    1892 51.8

  • Warmest springs

    DEGREES

    2012 60.3

    1977 60.0

    1921 59.0

    1991 58.6

    1946 57.9

    2007, 1938 57.7

    2010 57.6

    1922 57.4

    1945 57.3

    2003, 04, 1985 57.2

  • Driest springs

    INCHES OF RAIN

    1914, 1926 6.12

    1941 6.21

    1902 6.62

    1889 6.68

    1930 6.70

    1900 6.75

    1987 7.16

    1960 7.17

    1916 7.23

    1986 7.32

Winter is over.

Well, at least it is according to that vernal equinox thing, which tradition tells us signals the annual kickoff of nature's renewal in the Northern Hemisphere. But did Mother Nature received that message?

WKYT Chief Meteorologist Chris Bailey says snow could be in the works this month and next. We've already had 25 inches of snow — about 12.5 inches more than normal. Temperatures were well below normal, and Bailey says this was the 20th-coldest winter on record in Kentucky. That's the 20th-coldest winter in the past 119 years.

Nothing has been consistent about the weather this year. There was snow and ice, below-freezing temperatures, all melted away by 60-degree days. Then it came back again. Not to mention the potholes.

Spring should signal the end of this wretched weather. But there could be snow, and Bailey says that's not unusual.

"We've had big snows in April," he said. "The first week of the month back in 1987 saw a winter storm cripple much of the region."

To make matters worse, Bailey says, May could bring plenty of showers and floods.

On the bright side, however, the long, hard winter could help set the stage for brilliant flowers and green lawns this spring, says Jamie Dockery, Fayette County Extension Service horticulturist.

"It got cold and stayed cold this winter," Dockery said. "That probably was better for growing things than the kind of winters we're used to, where the temperature keeps going up and down."

However, Dockery sounded one cautionary note: Kentucky springs sometimes start out warm, then plunge into cold snaps that can devastate plants just coming out of winter sleep. That could still happen this year.

"I wish I knew," Dockery said. "But I don't have a crystal ball."

Bulbs are coming up at The Arboretum, The State Botanical Garden of Kentucky, but cool weather is keeping the pace slow, according to Molly Davis, the new director.

"We might be a month behind," she said.

Davis said now is a good time to check your plants and shrubs for signs of winter damage. But if you see a branch that looks dead, don't rush to chop if off. That branch might be alive and ready to bud out in a few weeks, Davis said.

Street crews and many homeowners put out salt all winter to prevent ice. That salt can cause real trouble for plants that are budding out.

"Grass should bounce back with plenty of water, but some plants are sensitive and may not survive having salt in contact with their roots for long periods," Davis said.

"If you notice salt has gotten in your plant beds, watering can kind of dilute it and flush it out. If you can see salt on the ground, I'd just scoop it up and dispose of it."

Arborist Dave Leonard recommends checking trees for any storm damage because it's easy to spot broken limbs before leaves break out. If limbs are broken, hire a professional to remove them, he said.

"Don't use a ladder," Leonard said.

Leonard also said that wet weather last year might have set up trees for root problems this spring. Look for problems and get help quickly if they develop, he said.

Get the latest weather forecast daily on Chris Bailey's Kentucky Weather blog at Weather.bloginky.com.

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