AgWeatherNet Weekly Weather Outlook Monday Update for Feb 10 to Feb 13, 2020

Early cherry awakening and a broad weather outlook through mid-March

Craig Oswald, Field Meteorologist, 509-786-9256
Joe Zagrodnik, Postdoctoral Research Associate
Mark Ingalls, AgWeatherNet Intern

Discussion:

As touched upon in Friday morning's outlook, the beginning of the week thus far has been dry statewide with sunny to partly sunny skies prevailing due to a large high pressure system residing off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. However, as mentioned Friday, there looks to be a return of some showers before week's end. It appears that a few rain showers will begin filling into the west side of the state Tuesday afternoon with mountain snow showers expected as well. Pass levels are anticipated to see mostly a rain/snow mix during the day and snow at night with this activity. A few inches of accumulation can be expected. Eastern Washington looks to remain dry.

Thursday afternoon looks to bring wider spread precipitation through the state with precipitation moving into eastern Washington from the northwest as well. This increase in mostly scattered and showery activity seems to be associated with a disturbance passing well to our north through central Canada. Generally, precipitation type looks to be defined as low land rain/snow showers and upland snow showers. South central Washington will likely trend more toward rain.

The Gibeaut cherry cold hardiness model indicates that cherry trees through the Columbia Gorge and north toward Benton City have entered an ‘awakening' mode this past weekend. A brief write up about this has been posted to Good Fruit Grower and can be found here. While this model represents cherries only, it may still serve as an indication that other perennial fruit crops may emerge from dormancy earlier than usual this spring as well. The following link to NOAA's site depicts temperature and precipitation data from this past January which helps to show how anomalously warm January was as referenced in the previous article (https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/us-maps/). Keep in mind however that cherries and other crops still need to become deacclimated from the colder winter weather and can still maintain a fairly robust freeze resiliency for about two weeks after awakening. Also, if slightly cooler than average temperatures can find their way into Washington during this time, trees will maintain their resiliency to cold for a while longer. This resiliency and risk for freeze can be monitored here, at the Gibeaut cherry cold hardiness model via the AgWeatherNet website.

Now what about the chances of a drastic cold weather outbreak occurring yet this winter? Especially with cherry trees beginning to come out of dormancy in far southern Washington. First, as a baseline, the following link displays frost climatology for a region of south central Washington along the Columbia gorge, the location can be changed by entering your zip code of interest (https://davesgarden.com/guides/freeze-frost-dates/index.php?q=99345&submit=Go). The following is a link that navigates to the NOAA climate center webpage where 1, 2, and 3 to 4 week temperature and precipitation outlooks can be found https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/. Based on this information, Washington state looks to be cooler than average over the 3-4 week from now time period, this however doesn't mean that a crippling cold outbreak will be part of that cooler than average weather. In fact, models indicate that the polar vortex, which is notorious for bringing desperately cold temperatures to the contiguous U.S. at times, will remain strong and centered over the north pole (a weak polar vortex is what brings cold weather to more southern latitudes. As it weakens, it begins to split and wander/lobes of it wander away from the north pole). The polar vortex looks to remain strong and centered over the north pole through the end of the month and up to mid-March.

In summary, the remainder of winter and early spring look to be characterized by slightly below average temperatures and slightly below average precipitation. And a major cold air outbreak that would produce massive bud kill does not seem likely through the beginning of March at this time. However, please keep up to date on our weekly weather outlooks for more specific weather updates in the coming weeks as well as follow local news weather reports and forecasts for the most up to date weather.


Key Points:

Temperatures
  • Remaining cooler but near seasonable.
  • Remaining near seasonable even with the slight cool down.

Precipitation
  • Scattered rain showers in western Washington and mountain snow Tuesday afternoon. More substantial yet showery precip Wednesday night and into Thursday.
  • Rain/snow and snow down to pass levels.
  • Mostly showery type rain/snow and upland snow for Washington east of the Cascades beginning Wednesday night.

Wind
  • Generally light winds continue early in the week yet look to become slightly breezy at times. Wind broadly from a SW direction.

South Central Washington
Remainder of the Week
  • Dry early in the week. Scattered rain showers and rain/snow showers in upland areas Thursday. Sunny to overcast.
  • Highs in the low 50s Tuesday, and near 50 Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Lows in the upper 20s Tuesday morning, low 30s Wednesday morning, and mid 30s Thursday morning.

North Central Washington
Remainder of the Week
  • Dry early in the week. Rain/snow showers and upland snow showers move in Wednesday night and linger through Thursday. Mostly sunny to overcast.
  • Highs in the low 40s Tuesday, near 40 Wednesday, and upper 30s Thursday. Cooler throughout higher terrain.
  • Lows in the mid 20s Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, near 30 Thursday morning. Cooler throughout higher terrain.

Eastern Washington
Remainder of the Week
  • Dry early in the week. Rain/snow showers and upland snow showers Thursday. Sunny to overcast.
  • Highs in the low 40s Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
  • Lows in the upper 20s Tuesday morning, and near 30 Wednesday and Thursday mornings.

Western Washington
Remainder of the Week
  • Scattered rain showers and mountain snow showers build back in Tuesday afternoon. Light rain and more substantial mountain snow to start Wednesday night turning more showery through Thursday. Partly sunny to overcast.
  • Highs in the upper 40s Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Much cooler throughout the Cascades/Olympics.
  • Lows in the mid 30s Tuesday morning, and near 40 Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Much cooler throughout the Cascades/Olympics.

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