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207 dry days and counting

Sacramento's surprise sprinkles don't measure up

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Will the rain spigot ever turn back on for Sacramento? We can hope for "real" rain next week, but the dry days keep adding up in the meantime. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Sacramento got a little surprise Wednesday morning – a few drops of rain from a quickly passing storm system.

That unexpected splash of moisture sure looked like rain and felt like rain, but – alas – it still didn’t measure on the National Weather Service’s Downtown Sacramento monitoring equipment.

So, our epic dry spell continues.

“While the sprinkles this AM were certainly welcomed, Downtown Sac again missed out on measurable rain,” tweeted the NWS Sacramento office on Wednesday. “It's now been 207 days since Downtown Sac has observed ≥0.01" of rain – an all-time record.”

Downtown Sacramento’s last measurable rain – more than 0.01 inch – fell March 19. The current dry spell eclipsed a rainless record of 194 days set back in 1880.

This is at least the 10th time Downtown Sacramento has experienced a dry spell of more than 143 days, according to the weather service. Besides 1880 and 2021, other dry spells lasting more than four months occurred in 1903 (174 days), 2002 (169 days), 1960 (162 days), 1932 (155 days), 1926 (147 days), 1924 (145 days), 1999 (144 days) and 1996 (143 days).

Not all of Sacramento has been bone-dry during our current streak. Monitoring equipment at Executive Airport did pick up 0.05 inch from an overnight thunderstorm that passed through Sept. 9-10.

When will we see “real” measurable rain? We’re certainly overdue. Historically, October averages nearly an inch of precipitation.

“Some measurable rain may be in store late next week,” tweeted the NWS Sacramento office. “Stay tuned ...”

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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