Our Northwest

Mass says to plant your summer garden now

Sunday, May 1, 2016by  Jon Osterberg
Local weather expert Cliff Mass says our warm spring means you can plant your tomatoes right now, about a month early for many people.
     And no, our warm spring is not a sign of global warming, he says.
     Mass's May 1 post on his weather blog says our balmy conditions are more the result of El Nino and unusually high pressure aloft, which compresses the air below, warming it.
     I knew our early spring was for real without learning it from a weather guru. My indicator is the puzzling rhododendron visible alongside I-90 approaching Snoqualmie Pass.
     I blogged about this "renegade rhodie" last year, mystified by whether someone planted it or if it grew naturally. Though common in Western Washington lowlands, I've not seen rhodies elsewhere in the Cascade mountains. Granted, towering rhododendron forests are common in other mountains, such as approaching the Himilayas.
     Most years I see this rhodie bloom near Exit 42 in mid-May. Yet last year it bloomed early, and again this year, on April 21, I saw its white blossoms bursting out. This past Thursday it was in full bloom. That confirmed we're having an early spring and made me wonder, does this signal another hot, dry summer?
     Today Mass wrote, "it is highly probable that this warmth will continue for the next few months."
     I say, bring it on!

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