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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sun reaches Spokane in time for St. Patrick’s Day, other weekend activities

“It’s called tricking,” says Evan Gray as he takes advantage of the warm weather while practicing at Mirabeau Meadows Park in Spokane Valley on Thursday. He’s originally from Hawaii and teaches a tricking class at Spokane Gymnastics. Tricking is a mix of martial arts and gymnastics.  (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)

Gardeners, outdoorspeople and children, rejoice: sunshine will grace Spokane this weekend.

Most of the Inland Northwest can look forward to clear skies and highs in the mid-60s Saturday and Sunday, and the fair weather is expected to stick around into early next week. It will be the first time this year temperatures will break the 60s in Spokane. It’s been 145 days since thermometers last reached that high, according to the National Weather Service.

“It’s not out of the realm of possibility that we have five consecutive days of 60 degrees or higher,” said Greg Koch, a meteorologist with the weather service.

Koch said a cold front will move into the region in the latter part of next week, bringing temperatures closer to average, in the high 40s and low 50s.

“It’s just going to be our turn to enjoy some of those warmer temperatures that have been quite abundant over other parts of the country over the last few months,” Koch said.

The weather will be much welcome for those attending the 44th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade Saturday at noon, and for those looking to enjoy one of Spokane’s many trails, parks and natural areas.

Ruth Gifford, executive director of the Dishman Hills Conservancy group, said she expects lots of visitors this weekend.

Gifford said most of the trails are in excellent condition, but recommended folks avoid the Stevens Creek Trailhead. Residual snow and muddy conditions will make it a tough climb, and too much traffic could degrade the trail’s future viability.

“This is a good time for people to explore on their own and see if they can find those few buttercups starting to poke out,” Gifford said.

Most public golf courses in the area will be open this weekend and are expecting heavy traffic. Liberty Lake, MeadowWood and Esmeralda golf courses opened Friday, and Downriver Golf Course opens Saturday.

Spokane County Parks, Recreation and Golf Director Doug Chase said players can look forward to excellent conditions this weekend at the County-owned Liberty Lake and MeadowWood courses.

“We’re really pleased with how our courses in the Valley have weathered through the winter,” Chase said, “Year to year, you never really know how mother nature is going to affect the courses.”

Those looking to get their backyard produce and flowerbeds going this weekend should wait till the fair weather is a little more permanent, according to Claudia Hartanov, a Spokane County master gardener.

Hartanov said it is still a little early to start planting outdoors, but it is a good weekend to do minor yard maintenance and pruning.

“It is pretty soon for most things, but it is a good time to prune,” Hartanov said. “You want to prune while the tree is still dormant.”

It’s also a good time to cut ornamental grasses, she added, but other yard work may have to wait until the soil dries out more.

Hartanov said a good rule of thumb is to test how much moisture is in the ground by seeing if it clumps together after being squeezed.

“They should not be digging in their soil right now, unless it’s completely dry,” Hartanov said. “If you hold the soil in your hand and it stays together, that means you still have moisture and you do not want to disturb it right now. There are some very good things in your soil you do not want to break up.”

Hartanov said plant enthusiasts can look forward to their annual garden fair and plant sale on April 26-27 at the Spokane WSU Extension Office. More than 6,000 pollinator plants, vegetable starts, herbs, berries and more will be available for purchase, and all proceeds benefit the nonprofit Master Gardener Foundation of Spokane County’s mission of sharing gardening expertise with the community.

Jimmy Mahoney and his wife, Aryn, got a head start on enjoying the first true Spring weekend by taking their young son and daughter to Riverfront Park on Friday afternoon.

Mahoney said they both grew up in Spokane and were happy to see how much the park has changed over the years. They live on the South Hill and don’t make it downtown often, but spent the afternoon at the Looff Carrousel, Providence Playscape and strolling along the recently reopened suspension bridges overhanging the river.

“We overlooked a lot of stuff out here for kids until we had kids,” Mahoney said. “Now we’re like ‘Let’s check out all of the good stuff.’ ”

Mahoney said they didn’t have any set plans for the weekend, but he hopes they get out of the house and enjoy the warm weather and clear skies.

“We’re really happy to see the sunshine out today, that’s for sure,” Mahoney said.