Weather Blog

Warm winter bringing out the tulips early at Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Warm winter bringing out the tulips early at Skagit Valley Tulip Festival »Play Video
File photos of the tulips at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. (Photo: Brendan Ramsey)

Walk around the Puget Sound area and you'll notice trees starting to bloom and perhaps the whirr of a lawn mower or two, even though winter still had a solid 3-4 weeks left in its reign.

Seattle finished up February as the warmest on record, on the heels of a very warm January (and record-warm December) as well, and the early spring-time weather has in tandem brought out the first signs of spring.

That applies to the tulips and flowers that normally bloom in April for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. With the warm winter this year, they too are getting a bit of a head start.

"The warm temperatures have definitely affected the bloom time of the tulips," said Jeannette DeGoede with Tulip Town.

The festival traditionally opens April 1 and runs through April 30 with the average time of initial bloom about a week into April. Warmer weather will push them out early while a cool February and March can put the show on hold until mid-April.

This year, they're blooming early, and that has Tulip Town opening a few days ahead of schedule to take advantage of the weekend and to make sure people can come while the flowers are out.

"We will open the 27th of March with lots of bloom. People who come early will have a beautiful showing of tulips," DeGoede said, adding the tulips' timing is perfect with Easter on the first weekend in April when they expect to have 30 varieties of tulips in bloom. "Easter will be spectacular with color, with lots of bouquets and pots for purchase."

She said they've opened early in the past but only had one or two varieties of tulips showing color then. But this year, with record warmth, comes record -- early tulip color?

"This is the first time we have experienced so many varieties that will show color (in late March)," she said.

So if you are one of the hundreds of thousands who are planning on going to see the tulips this year, DeGoede says the earlier, the better.

"We are a bit concerned that our customers won’t realize the flowers will be blooming this early," she said. "We depend on the festival to make our livings, so we're just kind of hoping that our customers will realize they need to come early year."

Now, if Mother Nature really wanted to help them out, she'd cool things down a bit once we get into April. Once the tulips begin to bloom, if the warm weather keeps going, it'll accelerate the growing process to where the tulips won't last as long. Cooler weather will act like a refrigerator and keep the tulips lasting longer.

But no matter what the weather dishes out over the next eight weeks, tulips are a hearty bunch -- they'll have a show whether it rains for days or it's sunny and 65 every day. About the only weather danger for tulips is hail.

But if the festival organizers had their druthers? They'd ask for cool and showery during the week to preserve the tulips then sunny and warm on the weekends to draw out the crowds.

L.A. beach turned white during intense hail storm

L.A. beach turned white during intense hail storm »Play Video
A surfer prepares to enter the water on a hail-covered beach, Monday, March 2, 2015, in Huntington Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Allen J. Schaben)

You know it's been a paltry winter around here when beaches in Los Angeles look more the winter wonderland than some of our ski slopes.

Check out what happened in Huntington Beach when an intense hail storm moved through Monday morning.  Some of the pics from social media are truly amazing!

Here is the story from the Associated Press:

Seattle sets twin records for warmest February, winter on record

Seattle sets twin records for warmest February, winter on record
Sun sets over the Olympics on Feb. 28, 2015. (Photo: Sigma Sreedharan)

In what will go down as one of the best -- or worst -- winters on record, depending on what you want out of a Seattle winter, now there will be some meteorological trophies to go along with the memories.

Seattle has set its record for all-time warmest February since official measurements began at Sea-Tac Airport. The average temperature (high temperature plus low temperature, divided by two) was 48.8 degrees narrowly edging 1977's record at 48.7. (And I mean narrowly. Had Saturday just been one degree cooler, it would have been a tied record instead.)

WATCH: Northern Lights peek out over Western Washington

WATCH: Northern Lights peek out over Western Washington
Photo of Northern Lights on 15 second film exposure as seen from Mukilteo on Feb. 23, 2015. (Photo: Liem Bahneman)

It was a bit of a surprise considering there wasn't much solar flare activity but the Northern Lights made a faint appearance over Western Washington Monday night.

2 routine events combine for spectacular scene over Canadian skies

2 routine events combine for spectacular scene over Canadian skies
Photo of a "FallStreak" cloud spotted over Surrey, B.C. at sunrise on Feb. 22, 2015. (Photo courtesy: Zora Fernandez)

Those who were up early enough Sunday morning in Surrey, B.C. and happened to look up were treated to a spectacular scene in the heavens that looks like something straight out of the imagination of a futuristic Hollywood alien blockbuster film.

In actuality, it was the combination of two rather routine events that just happened to have impeccable timing:

A sunrise (one for the ages on its own) …and a plane descending through a solid, stable cloud layer.

Long range forecast maps: Short term gain, long term pain

Long range forecast maps: Short term gain, long term pain
Brilliant sunset on Feb. 16. (Photo credit: Mirwais Azami Photography)

It's the third week in February, and that means it's time for NOAA's monthly long range forecast update. But while skiers and snow lovers have probably trained themselves by now to just skip reading this type of entry in my blog, I bring tidings of GOOD NEWS!

Sort of.

Let's hold off the inevitable bad news for a few paragraphs to show this map in all its glory:

Central Nebraska about the only folks experiencing a normal February

Central Nebraska about the only folks experiencing a normal February
Map via WxBell showing expected temperature deviations from normal later this week, but is also essentially a snapshot of this winter's persistent pattern. (Photo courtesy: Susie Martin)

The weather pattern this winter has been stark in its dramatic differences -- temperatures at record-warm levels in the West, and a relentless march of arctic air masses pummeling the East.

The map above is a snapshot in time -- actually a forecast depicting areas of expected below and above normal temperatures for later this week, but it's been the consistent story the past several days anyway.

Seattle easily on pace for warmest winter on record

Seattle easily on pace for warmest winter on record
Photo: Brad Spiegel

As you look around to flowers budding, lawns needing mowing, and skiers frowning, signs are everywhere it's been a very mild winter. So it should come to no shock that we are indeed on pace to shatter records for warmest winter -- and autumn-winter combined -- since 1945 when Sea-Tac Airport became Seattle's official observation.

First, let's look at the overall numbers:

Mountain snowpack now totally gone in some spots

Mountain snowpack now totally gone in some spots
The Hurricane Ridge parking lot that shows a distinct lack of snow on Feb. 16, 2015. (Photo: Hurricane Ridge Park Web Camera / National Park Service)

The numbers have been ugly…and they're getting uglier by the hour.

The National Weather Service has put out its twice-monthly report on the mountain snowpack and the numbers for Feb. 15 and, well, skiers should probably stop reading here. Perhaps water managers and those who have to battle wildfires might just head on over to the sports sectio…well, maybe the offbeat news?

To those who are brave enough to stomach the results, here goes:

50,000-ft. mountain sprouts up in Seattle? Contrail makes neat optical illusion

50,000-ft. mountain sprouts up in Seattle? Contrail makes neat optical illusion

Who'd have thought a simple right turn in the sky could make such an interesting photo opportunity?

I spotted this as my family was driving down the Mukilteo Speedway Sunday morning -- at first thought it looked like a massively tall mountain had sprung up over the Cascades with snow blowing to the right off the summit! (Well, if the mountain was indeed that tall, at least it'd be one of the few places this winter that was cold enough for snow!)