Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 2, 2013

Some see silver linings in late-season snow clouds

By MATT TROUTMAN mtroutman@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Don’t expect Old Man Winter to leave northern Michigan until mid-April.

Up to 7 inches of lake effect snow fell across parts of the Grand Traverse region over Easter Sunday into Monday. Tim Locker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said more snow is possible today and colder temperatures could persist until the second half of April.

“Right now there’s no indication whatsoever of warm weather,” he said. “The jet stream needs to start being more north of us.”

That’s bad news for who long for warm weather, but others take a different view.

Julie Sovereign has owned Garden Goods, a Garfield Township retail garden center, with her husband for nearly two decades. She said the area’s average frost-free date is around Memorial Day but can vary significantly.

“After 19 years we’ve seen (the weather) do all kinds of things up and down,” she said. “This is more on the typical side. It should be a little warmer, but people are not out planting in their yard the first of April.”

Sovereign stressed patience for people “anxious” to see a touch of green in their home gardens. She’s holding off nursery shipments until the weather warms, but said a later start can be good for business.

“In the long run it’s best for established plants to stay dormant rather than have wild fluctuations in temperature,” she said. “It’s a delayed gratification.”

Marijane Boomer, co-owner of Still Point Farms in Empire, is fine with the frigid outlook. She said her farm’s fruit trees and 3,000 maple syrup taps would benefit from a late spring start.

“We’re sorry because we know there’s a lot of people who want the spring weather to come and quickly,” she said. “But they got their turn last year.”

In 2012, cherry blossoms bloomed in unseasonably warm March temperatures and then fell hard to frost, leading to a disastrous crop throughout the region. Boomer said 80-degree March temperatures also hurt maple syrup production.

“In a typical average year we make about 325 gallons of syrup,” she said. “Last year was about half a crop ... The hot weather in March made it a three-day run. It got too hot too quick and that was the end of the season.”

Locker said temperatures should stay in the mid- to upper-20s today and increase later this week. He said lake effect snow bands could be similar to those Monday that dropped 6 to 8 inches of snow in Antrim and Kalkaska counties.

“By (tonight) it should be winding down until Thursday when a weak system will be moving through,” he said. “Northern lower should see rain and eastern upper should see snow.”