Time was when spring meant tulips, crabapple blossoms, lilacs and irises.
Radishes pushed though garden soil — early sentinels of other vegetables to follow. And grass seed sent up thin blades.
Not this spring, not so far anyway.
That's about to change.
“Warm weather is coming,” said Tom Kines, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc., The World-Herald's private weather consultant.
The National Weather Service is forecasting weekend highs of about 70 degrees across the Midlands. That's 30 degrees higher than Tuesday's forecast high in Omaha.
With the warmth is coming a shift in weather patterns, Kines said.
“Probably for the next few weeks, we're heading into a more normal weather pattern,” he said. “There might be a cool-down for a few days next week, but not like we've been seeing, and after that it warms up again.”
Since the start of April, just about every community from Scottsbluff to western Iowa has set at least one daily record for miserably cold or snowy weather. Some towns have set three or four records.
Omaha set a record low Saturday morning, when the temperature dropped to 23 degrees, one degree lower than the previous record set in 1953. Another hard freeze is forecast for tonight, which threatens to set another daily record low.
But by the end of the week, that kind of weather probably is behind us, Kines said.
Next week's dip in temperatures probably means daytime highs in the 50s and 60s, rather than the 40s, he said.
Once the weather warms up, spring will come rushing along, said Kathleen Cue, a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska Extension in Douglas and Sarpy Counties.
Cue said the Midlands could well have a compressed spring, in which everything blooms nearly at once.
“Once blooming season hits, it could be very intense and pretty,” she said.
In a normal spring, tulips would be blooming, crabapple blossoms would be emerging, forsythias would be in full bloom and lilacs would be budding out, Cue said. Grass seed would be germinating, and cool season vegetables would have emerged from the soil.
Unless hard freezes have blackened the flowering buds, those plants should blossom just fine, she said.
Homeowners who have seeded their yards and gardeners who have planted peas, spinach, lettuce and radishes shouldn't despair. Those seeds are still viable and will germinate once temperatures rise.
“They're sitting there dormant,” she said. “Have faith. They'll come up.”
Traditionally, Mother's Day has been the benchmark for planting warm season plants such as tomatoes, impatiens, begonias and peppers. Cue said it's still possible that the soil will be warm enough by then for people to plant on schedule.
“It depends upon how things go from here,” she said.
Three successive days and nights with soil temperatures of at least 50 degrees are needed before people can put in warm season plants, she said.
Over the past week, soil temperatures in the Omaha area and across much of southern and eastern Nebraska have ranged from the low- to mid-40s, according to the University of Nebraska's CropWatch program.
Cue said she hasn't heard of a single person whose vegetable garden has sprouted, which is unusual for this time of year.
Once temperatures increase, the next big question is whether there will be a long enough spring for cool season vegetables to reach maturity before summer's heat.
“I can't crystal ball that,” Cue said. “Do we immediately go into depths of summer? Let's just hope we have a spring.”
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