Expect bitterly cold temperatures Monday night in the Tri-Cities.
The National Weather Service predicts the low could drop more than 15 degrees below normal for February in the Tri-Cities to as cold as 13 degrees under clear skies.
Lows have been in the high 30s and even low 40s for much of this month.
Orchards could be at some risk. But Melba Salazar, interim lead for the research program at the WSU AgWeatherNet, says she’s hoping that the cold snap won’t be too hard on fruit trees.
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Orchard owners were getting prepared Monday. They were setting out heaters and may run wind machines Monday night, Salazar said.
Grapevines are starting to come out of dormancy, in part because of unusually warm temperatures last week, sunny skies that have warmed soil and no snow covering the ground, said Michelle Moyer, WSU associate professor of viticulture.
There could be some vineyard damage from cold weather Monday night, but likely not a lot, she said.
The cold weather may not affect crocuses that are blooming in the Tri-Cities. Early spring flowers are usually cold tolerant, said Tim Waters, regional vegetable specialist for the Washington State University Extension service office in Pasco.
Most vegetable crops are not yet in the ground, with the exception of onions, which tolerate the cold. But the cold snap serves as a reminder to home gardeners not to start planting until the soil warms, Waters said.