Up to a foot of snow could fall in the Cascade Mountains over the weekend. And some Snohomish County lowlands are already seeing flakes. This wacky blast of winter has ski areas cheering and farmers worried.
For skiers and snowboarders it could mean fresh powder this weekend instead of slushy spring skiing. Gwyn Howat with the Mount Baker Ski Area in the North Cascades calls it a La Nina year. "Well, considering we started off the season with a roar - in December we had 34 days straight of continuous snowfall - and then now that we're still in it here come April it's felt truly like the endless winter."
But a return to winter is not welcome news for fruit growers. John Pringle of Kennewick, Wash., grows apples and cherries. His cherry trees are just past full bloom, which makes them vulnerable to a drop below 30 degrees. That's why Pringle is preparing to fire up his frost-protection system this weekend. "I'm sure that we will be running the wind machines, got some irrigation water we are going to run, and in some places heaters - some propane, some diesel - but I think we got adequate equipment to survive it," says Pringle.
Winter weather in April is a mixed blessing for the Northwest's famous tulip festivals. Says Barb Iverson, with the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn, Ore.: "The cold weather really doesn't bother us, it extends our season. When it's 80 degrees, that's hard on us because we can't keep up with flower picking."
But Cindy Verge with the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Washington says cold weather and muddy fields are not good for attendance. "It just kind of creates a mess for the tulip fans - it's chilly and we want folks to be able to come out and enjoy the tulips. And when it's cold people kind of hesitate a little bit."
The long range forecast shows a slow warming trend through next week - and back to normal temperatures for this time of year by next weekend.