It may seem like some plants have been acting like spring is around the corner, with swelling buds and an occasional green shoot from early bloomers like daffodils.
But don't worry. Horticultural experts say that despite appearances, plants won't be putting out leaves or blooms any time soon.
Even though recent daytime temperatures have reached into the 50s, our nighttime lows still are quite cold, dropping into the 20s and 30s.
"At these temperatures, plants are dormant, so don't worry," said Marsha Carter, a nursery worker at Heritage Nursery and Garden Center in Kennewick.
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"We've had a really nice winter so far, so you shouldn't be concerned unless it gets really cold, really fast, under 20 degrees or lower. Now if an Arctic front comes in and it's 12 degrees tomorrow, you can expect some damage. But there's nothing a homeowner can do about Mother Nature," Carter said.
It is sudden cold, early on, that causes winter damage, said Marianne Ophardt, horticulturist for the Washington State University Extension in Benton and Franklin counties.
"Plants don't usually get their full winter hardiness until around January," Ophardt said. "It takes a combination of cold and shorter days to send them into real dormancy."
She said orchardists are more concerned about frost damage to flower buds than to leaf buds.
Carter said orchardists know to watch the weather and temperatures and are prepared with frost protection through wind machines, smudge pots and sprinkling systems.
According to the National Weather Service, daily average temperatures in the Mid-Columbia for December were in the mid-30s.
"That's near to slightly below normal for your area," said Ann Adams, assistant forecaster for the National Weather Service in Pendleton.
Forecasters are predicting today's daytime high to be around 50 degrees, with temperatures tapering off to the high 30s by Sunday. Lows should drop into the upper 20s at night.
Forecasters expect the below normal temperatures for the rest of January. Normal highs for Kennewick are 41 for the month and lows are usually just below 30.
What is more worrisome is our lack of precipitation.
"December for your area was a bit dry with just a few spritzles here and there; some didn't even measure," Adams said.
Normally, the Mid-Columbia receives 1.13 inches of rain/snow in December. This year we had only 0.08 inches, according to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.
Because of that Carter recommends -- if you have access to water -- to give evergreens a drink on days when temperatures are 40 degrees or above.
"Evergreens are stressed by winter because we're typically very dry here. Deciduous plants and perennials really shut down but evergreens -- which are native to places where there's plenty of winter moisture -- are trying to hold on to their needles," Carter said.
"When you think that our annual rainfall is seven inches, even if we got it all at once, that's not enough to water a tree."