No severe storms on the way for Easter weekend

Rain is predicted for most of the week leading into Easter Sunday, a time when many hope for sunny skies and blooming flowers.

Those who are familiar with Nevada weather haven't put the vegetables in the ground yet, or allowed cloudy skies to stop them from shopping for Easter gifts. But overall the gloomy weather may be a bad sign for retailers, who are hoping for a pick-up in Easter sales.

Friday afternoon has a high chance for thunderstorms, ushered in by midday showers today and Wednesday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Brian O'Hara. No severe storms are anticipated.

"A weekend system is moving through and there's a slight chance of showers over the weekend," he said. "We're still in this weather pattern and it's not going to change through the weekend. We're waiting for spring to come."

So far, April has been a wet one in the Eagle Valley. Rain fall is at .43 of an inch, compared to .08 last April. Sunday's high of 52 degrees was 10 degrees below normal.

Often consumers need to feel the temperature rise before they put away the woolly hats and gloves and contemplate warm-wear purchases.

Bryan Hodge, manager of the Manger Christian Book Store in Carson City, said the cold weather makes people forget things, like purchasing Easter gifts.

"The natives come through the weather because they are used to it," he said. "I notice it affects people who are not used to living in this environment. If it's not springy outside, people don't realize it's Easter until the last minute."

Rainy weather isn't keeping shoppers from the outdoor shopping center Summit Sierra, said Larry Hunt, senior property manager. He said people stay at home during extreme weather, which hasn't hit south Reno since the shopping center opened last month.

Total Easter spending is estimated to reach $12.6 billion in 2006, a significant increase from the $9.6 billion spent in 2005. This year, the average shopper expects to spend $122 on Easter, up from $97 in 2005, according to the National Retail Federation.

According to a survey conducted by the retail federation, 41 percent of consumers plan to purchase clothing for the upcoming holiday, compared to 29 percent in 2005. Of those that will be purchasing apparel, the average consumer plans to spend $55.50, up a few dollars from last year.

It's still too early for planting. JoAnne Skelly, cooperative extension educator, said the last average frost date is May 15, but those who are really smart will wait until June 1. She waits until the second week in June to plant her tomatoes.


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