As the Northern Hemisphere said goodbye to winter last night and prepared to welcome the first official day of spring this morning, many Wichitans wondered whether winter was really over.
The National Weather Service announced a winter storm watch for Wichita and other area cities from Friday evening through this evening. The service predicted snow to start falling in Wichita around 10 p.m. Friday, calling four to six inches of accumulation likely.
"This is Kansas, so sporadic weather is going to happen," said Mark Matney of Tree Top Nursery and Landscape Inc.
Fortunately for plant lovers, Sedgwick County extension agent Bob Neier and local gardening experts do not think the low temperatures and possible snow will affect plants or crops adversely.
"Wet snow would be even better because it will help protect the plants," Neier said.
"It's not the snow that hurts vegetation — it's temperatures in the teens, which we aren't expecting for this storm," Matney said.
While many people may have the urge to cover outdoor plants or shake snow off tree branches, gardening experts said doing so often causes more damage than benefit. Leaving mulch used to insulate plants throughout the winter would be a good idea for a while longer, however.
"I wouldn't remove any mulch, but I also wouldn't worry about putting any more out unless you have just planted something and it has already started to leaf out," Neier said.
So while the irony of a cold and possibly snowy first day of spring isn't lost on Wichita, it won't be the first — and probably not the last— of its kind.
"Wichita just needs to keep the faith that spring will come for good — eventually,'' Matney said.