It’s finally beginning to feel like spring in the Tri-Cities. The crocuses are finally blooming, the buds are starting to appear on the trees, and even the wildflowers are showing signs of growth on the surrounding hillsides.
The NOAA National Weather Service three-month climate forecast is predicting warmer-than-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation for the Pacific Northwest.
Allergy sufferers need to be aware that the misery index may increase rapidly over the next few weeks.
Cliff Mass, state climatologist, says the cooler temperatures of February and early March, followed by above-normal temperatures is likely to trigger a burst of pollen this next few months.
Winds can send clouds of dust and allergens into the air, reducing the humidity and increasing the likelihood of nasal congestion and dry cough.
Mass notes that for the past 30 days, large sections of Western Washington were extremely dry, receiving 5 percent to 25 percent of the normal average precipitation. The Eastern part of the state was just slightly below normal.
The warmer and drier weather is going to make spring in southeastern Washington beautiful, but the risks of fire and smoke in mid- to late summer is shaping up to be a repeat of the last few years.
The main contributor to this situation appears to be a resurgent El Nino, which is associated with warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures over the central and eastern tropical Pacific.
As the warmer weather improves, outdoor recreational opportunities will begin to spread from the valleys higher into the foothills and the mountains. Recreationists should plan accordingly and understand the risks of avalanches can change rapidly in the spring with the change of the weather.
The Northwest Avalanche Center indicates that the freezing levels in the Cascades this week are between 5,000 and 6,000 feet. The avalanche danger will remain low with cool overnight temperatures, with continued chances for light precipitation, and partial cloud cover. Variable travel conditions exist.
It is recommended that people keep typical spring considerations in mind like wet snow avalanches, cornices, and timing your travel to be off slopes before warming makes them wet and weak.
For the East Slopes south of I-90 to the Columbia River, no hazard rating has been declared. Watch for spring sun effects on slopes with shallow new snow, and in general expect variable surface conditions Friday. As we continue to transition to spring, pay attention to opening creeks and gullies, glide cracks and softening cornices.
Get out and clean, walk and tour
Locally, numerous organizations are offering a wide range of opportunities in April to get outside, help clean up the environment, and go on wildflower walks and wildlife tours.
Horse Heaven Hills Community Trash Clean-up
Saturday, April 6, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. : For those who want to carpool, organize via the discussion section, meet at the Van Giesen Park and Ride at 8:30 a.m. McBee trailhead, 19205 N. McBee Road, Benton City.
Organizers are Gretchen Graber and Spokane office of Bureau of Land Management. This year they focus on Weber Canyon. Gloves and bags will be provided, but dress warmly and bring your own water and snacks and gloves. Meet at the trailhead at 9 a.m. Maps provided. For more information - www.cbwnps.org/calendar
Amon Creek Natural Preserve Tapteal Greenway Wildlands Walk
April 13, 2019, 9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. at Claybell Park, 425 Broadmoor St, Richland.
Tapteal Greenway is holding its annual Wildlands Walk in Amon Creek Natural Preserve. The event features a 1.5-mile loop through the preserve, with learning stations along the way. Local experts will give talks at educational stations on bird banding, reptiles and lichens, shrub-steppe ecology, Native American artifacts and mammals of the preserve. There will also be information tables with REI, city of Richland, KID, Benton County Noxious Weed Control Board and others. All ages welcome. No fee to attend. Tours will be staggered in groups of 10-15 people beginning at 9 a.m. until 10 a.m. Meet at Claybell Park. Direct questions to email@example.com or visit http://www.tapteal.org/
Friends of Badger Mountain and the Columbia Basin Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society are offering a series of walks.
Candy Mountain Wildflower Walk
April 6, 10 a.m. - noon, Candy Mountain Preserve Trailhead, 71004 E. 669 PR NE, Richland.
Gretchen Graber will lead a Wildflower Walk on the trail on Candy Mountain. Walks are produced by Friends of Badger Mountain and the Columbia Basin Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cbwnps.org
Badger Mountain Wildflower Walk
April 14, 10 a.m. - noon, Dallas Road parking lot, 5305 East PR 210, Richland.
Janelle Downs will lead a Wildflower Walk on the Skyline Trail on Badger Mountain. For more information, contact email@example.com or visit www.cbwnps.org
Saddle Mountain Wildflower Walk
Wednesday, April 17, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Meet: 8 a.m. Van Giesen Park & Ride.
This all-day event leaves Tri-Cities and goes to Saddle Mountain to observe the many special wildflowers not often seen in the Columbia Basin: blue bells and pink-violet shooting stars in profusion. The little yellow bells of spring will be ringing on the slopes. Trip leaders are Ernest Crediford and Terri Knoke. Contact Ernest Crediford at Ernest_crediford@live.com or visit www.cbwnps.org
Badger Flats Children’s Interpretive Walk
April 20, 9:30 a.m. - 11 a.m., Trailhead Park, 525 Queensgate Dr., Richland.
Pauline Schafer, in partnership with the Reach Museum, will lead a Children’s Interpretive Walk on the Badger Flats Trail on Badger Mountain. Come out and see the beauty of the mountainside in spring. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cbwnps.org
Native Plants Appreciation Day – McNary National Wildlife Refuge, Burbank
April 27, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., McNary Wildlife Refuge, 64 Maple St., Burbank.
The Friends of the Mid-Columbia National Wildlife Refuges and the Columbia Basin Washington Native Plant Society will be hosting Native Plant Appreciation Day. The event offers guided wildflower walks of the “Two Sisters.” Experts will present talks on butterflies and wildflowers, and there will be children’s crafts, nature walks, and microscopes for everyone to take a look into the amazing world of shrub steppe plants and flowers. It’s fun for the whole family and free. For information: http://friendsofmcrwr.org/