'Spring has not sprung,' and it's frustrating many

Providence Journal |

--PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Spring by its meteorological definition is half over, but who would know?

"Spring has not sprung," said Dean Palumbo, manager of Airport Nursery in Warwick.

It tried to spring late last week when the temperature hit 65 degrees in Providence on Friday and 62 on Saturday, but then plummeted, reaching a high of just 41 degrees on Sunday, with snowflakes spotted in parts of the region.

With a rainy start to the workweek Monday, the National Weather Service is forecasting below-normal temperatures through most of the week, "with some moderation possible next weekend."

The normal high for this time of year is about 59 degrees, but the weather service is forecasting highs in just the low 50s through Thursday, 49 on Friday, before hitting 52 and 55 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

The temperature is expected to stay below normal for the next six to 10 days, according to Alan Dunham, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Norton, Massachusetts. If it does, it will continue a trend that started in March, which had an average temperature of 38.7 degrees, 0.2 degrees below normal. Through , the average temperature was 42.1 degrees, which is 4.3 degrees below normal to this point in the month.

"We've had a lot of systems bring us air from Canada," Dunham said. "We really haven't been able to tap into any of the warmth we can get from Southeastern U.S."



By the astronomical definition, spring started on . By the meteorological definition, the season is even older, having started on . The average temperature in Providence so far this spring -- March and the first part of April -- is 39.7 degrees, according to the NOAA Regional Climate Centers.

The persistently cold weather of April may be making this spring seem especially harsh, according to Paul Pastelok, lead long-range meteorologist for AccuWeather. He notes the average temperature at this point in spring, 1.7 degrees below normal, was exactly the same last year. The difference: Last spring's real cold came earlier.

"Last year was a much colder March and this year we're having a colder April," Pastelok said. "That's the difference between the two years."

It's not unusual for spring temperatures to bounce around a lot, Pastelok noted. He says Southern New England could see a significant warmup during the first few days of May -- 60s and maybe even the 70s -- but then the pattern will start bouncing around again. The good news: The sun is getting higher in the sky every day, and he doesn't see any more snow in the spring forecast, at least from Providence out to the coast.

At Airport Nursery in Warwick, Palumbo is waiting for warmer and drier weather so customers will get out in their yards and think about landscaping.

"It's catastrophic to the nursery industry because the business is driven and motivated by the warm weather," he said. "People are not going to be out in their yards concentrating on beautification."

Landscapers are behind, still doing yard cleanups, not yet ready to plant the trees and shrubs sold at the nursery, Palumbo says. He says it feels like the season is a month behind schedule.

Palumbo says he's had customers visit the nursery but leave without buying anything. They will tell him, "I'd love to start this project, but it's just too darn cold. I'll start it later."

-- jperry@providencejournal.com

(401) 277-7614

On Twitter: @jgregoryperry

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