Mother Nature has thrown Alaskans a curve ball this winter, and is successfully tricking some plants into thinking spring has come early.
Around Southcentral Alaska, a week and a half of temperatures hovering in the 40s is causing, at least for now, an early spring break-up season. The melting snow is uncovering green grass, some perennial plants are sprouting new growth, and trees are even starting to bud.
But the warm-up could bring with it negative consequences for some.
At Bell's Nursery, horticulturalist Steph Daniels has heard questions and concerns from gardeners and customers, asking how the unseasonable weather could affect their plants.
"Perennial plants in the past, (this type of weather) has been what has killed them. A really hard freeze with no snow cover," said Daniels. "We have lost plants that way and quite a few people have said even on Hillside that they are seeing green growth coming up from perennials."
On Monday, Daniels covered ferns outside Bell's with a layer of mulch to create insulation, protecting them from the cold weather that is bound to return soon. Hay or leaves will work too, she said. The most damage will occur if Southcentral sees below-freezing temperatures before it gets a thick blanket of snow cover.
At the same time, the weather could lead to even more costly losses for homeowners. Michael DuPree, service manager with Circle Plumbing and Heating, said the snow acts as an insulator to underground pipes. Older buildings may not have pipes that are buried deep enough and the frost could break or even shift them.
Indoor pipes are a bigger concern. According to DuPree, the warm temperatures can cause homeowners to forget how quickly damage can occur to their indoor plumbing once the temperatures dip. When that starts to happen, it’s a good idea to open up the cabinets under the kitchen sink to keep pipes warm.
"Most people are not going to be affected directly from the outside, they're going to be affected directly from the inside," said DuPree.