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HELLO, SPRING Post-winter signs include green shoots, golf and tennis

Green shoots are pushing up from flower beds, inching past crocuses that have come and mostly gone after a winter of well-below-average snowfall.

Nets are strung on outdoor tennis courts around town, and early bird golfers are trying to direct their shots away from mushy patches of fairway.

Why, we're already midway between St. Patrick's Day and the Bisons home opener, just two weeks away.

But nothing said "Spring!" like the aroma of hot dogs on the grill wafting from Franklin and West Eagle streets as temperatures pushed into the mid-40s under clear skies Tuesday.

"When the sun shines the business shines," chirped vendor Mark McCarthy, who will mark 25 years at the busy downtown corner April 15, as customers lined up to grab a quick meal on the run.

Not that bad weather keeps him off the street very often. Only on the windiest days, when his umbrella-shaded cart "would wind up in Angola" if he dared set up, does McCarthy elect to stay home in West Seneca.

"Snow doesn't make a winter," he said. "I'd be out here 365 days a year if it weren't for the wind. Sometimes, in November, you can't get out for a full week."
Over the next few days, highs are expected to climb from near 60 today into the 70s over the weekend.

The Genesee Valley might even top 80 by Saturday, the National Weather service said.

Over in Lancaster, parks workers have been out cleaning up the town parks and fixing the winter damage.

"Once the weather breaks, we know there's going to be a lot of families trying to get out, after being cooped up in their houses," said Terrence McCracken, general crew chief of the town's parks, recreation and forestry department.

In the Town of Tonawanda, Adams Nurseries on Sheridan Drive opened its doors for the season on Monday. Customers are asking for Easter plants and looking for crabgrass preventer and wondering when the perennials will arrive, said Tricia O'Conner, nursery manager.

"We just opened a few days ago, so people are getting antsy and want to get everything done yesterday," O'Conner said.

Of course, with nice weather comes the annual spring battle with wet lawns and playing fields.

"While the weather is nice, the grounds are still soggy," McCracken said. "Trying to keep people off the diamonds is somewhat of a problem. . . . People are extremely anxious to get out and practice. I don't blame them."

But if you are tempted to put away the winter coats, don't count your snowflakes before they've fallen, counsels the National Weather Service.

Though Buffalo's measurable snowfall totals 74.1 inches for the season, nearly two feet below average, spring weather here can be perversely fickle, meteorologist Mike Pukajlo pointed out.

"We usually have one or two snow events in April, and it's not uncommon to have them as late as mid-May," he said.

If winter is indeed finished, this will be Buffalo's shortest snow season since record-keeping started in 1871. The first measurable snowfall was Dec. 1, about two weeks later than usual; the most recent was Feb. 28.

News Staff Reporter Jay Rey contributed to this report.

e-mail: tbuckham@buffnews.com

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