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Spring is here

Mon., March 20, 2017

The first day of spring is always a time to celebrate, but maybe never more than this year.

A hard winter that saw prolonged rain, snow, ice and floods is now in the past, although floodwaters have yet to subside.

The calendar on Monday morning turned the page to spring with the arrival of the vernal equinox at 3:29 a.m.

As fast as the region’s low-elevation snowpack melted away, spring growth has been just as fast to pop up. Early flowers and buds are increasingly evident.

Those thawing temperatures, including a high of 60 one day last week, are bringing out the gardeners.

“Everybody is just anxious to get going with stuff,” said Judith Feeley, assistant manager of Northwest Seed & Pet at 2422 E. Sprague Ave.

She said the store’s best sales are coming during the after-church hours around noon on Sundays.

“We’ve got lots of business coming in,” Feeley said. Bulbs and grass seed are the biggest sellers, she said.

The months of snow cover and frozen ground may have taken a toll on some plants, including turf. Winter damage is just starting to appear, but those muddy and mossy spots on lawns are apparent.

It looks like roses generally fared well during the winter. Plants that were buried under the snow should survive if they were not twisted and broken by the weight of the snowpack.

Birds have returned to the region after wintering in warmer locales, and they are finding good pickings. Waterfowl are abundant in places with standing water.

This comes after Spokane saw 76 straight days with snow on the ground. While that was not a record, the amount of precipitation was.

National Weather Service forecasters said the precipitation from Oct. 1 through the first week of March was at an all-time high.

As of Friday, Spokane International Airport had 17.66 inches of rain and snow-water equivalent since Oct. 1. That is more than Spokane gets on average in a full year.

Floodwaters this year were the greatest in 20 years in some locations.

The Spokane Falls and Lake Coeur d’Alene are expected to crest this week at their highest levels since at least 2011 and 2012.

Spring in the Inland Northwest is likely to get off to a sunny start on Monday. But typical of spring, rain and showers will certainly follow, and a chance of a late snowfall remains possible.

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