JoAnne Skelly: Here we go again: Third winter

JoAnne Skelly

JoAnne Skelly

At the end of March, I wrote about the “Nevada Seasons” from Spring Mountain Ranch State Park which listed the seasons as: “Winter, Fool’s Spring, 2nd Winter, Spring of Deception, 3rd Winter, Road Construction, Actual Spring, Summer, Fire, False Fall, 2nd Summer and Actual Fall.” At that point I thought we were in “Spring of Deception.” Our latest weather pattern has now thrown us into “3rd Winter” with hail, sleet, rain, snow, winds and freezing temperatures.
I had many late-starting daffodils that got hammered. Although the heads came up a bit the day after the first storm, the petals looked too battered to return to their perky selves. The early-blooming daffodils are completely wiped out. I don’t know if the apple blossoms are viable anymore, with the heirloom tree’s flowers having that tan “I’ve been frozen” look. The ‘Red Delicious’ blooms still have pink color, but who knows if there will be any fruit again this year. I will have to go out, pick a few flower buds and cut them in half to see if they are blackened inside. If yes, bye, bye fruit.
The lilac leaves and flower buds are making a valiant effort to come back to normal, but will there be flowers to enjoy? I had just started observing how many flowers each bush might have, when bam, good ole “3rd Winter.” I have an ‘Amur’ maple sapling whose leaves had just started to open as the weather hit. Poor laittle guy. It may have to grow all those leaves again.
The problem with a third winter is that the buds and leaves are all new-growth tender. They haven’t had a chance to harden off and be ready for a super cold blast and gale-force winds. I don’t expect plants to die, but I do suspect my flowers will be minimal and that trees and shrubs may be set back for bit.
Yet, how can I complain when we so desperately need moisture. The mountains received snow, which will hopefully soak into the soil for the trees. Maybe some will make it down the canyons and drainages to the valleys to recharge some very depleted ground water. We had 2/10ths of an inch of water in our rain gauge, in addition to ½” of wet, heavy snow. Of course, this was followed by another two days of strong winds, which proceeded to dry everything out again. We have to love that Nevada weather!
JoAnne Skelly is associate professor & extension educator emerita at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Reach her at


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