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After 175 days, parts of Sacramento break dry spell

But Downtown Sacramento could still set rainless record

Mud spots on leaves
The plant equivalent of a rain-spotted windshield: Just enough rain fell to mess up
this lime tree's leaves but not enough to clean them. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)



Our “September surprise” caused a bit of a splash.

For the first time in nearly six months, parts of Sacramento got (sort of) wet. Starting late Thursday night, thunderstorms provided our first measurable precipitation (at least in some parts of Sacramento) since the final days of this past winter.

According to the National Weather Service, this dry spell was nearly historic.

“The last time measurable rain at Downtown Sac was 175 days ago on Mar 19, 2021,” the weather service tweeted Friday. “With a near-continuous period of record going back to the 1870s, this is the second longest dry streak on record. The longest streak was 194 days occurring May 13, 1880 to Nov. 22, 1880.”

In other words, this has been the longest Sacramento dry spell in 141 years!

But wait! Although there was measurable rain (0.05 inches) at Sacramento Executive Airport, Downtown Sacramento’s rain monitors stayed dry.

“Downtown Sacramento rain gauge reported 0.00" of rain today,” tweeted the weather service Friday afternoon. “NWS employees went on-site (to) verify it was recording properly. Upon further review, we can confirm that no rain fell. While there was light rain at Sac Exec, the rain-free streak at Sac Downtown continues.”

Puddle on plastic
A puddle remained on solarizing plastic Friday afternoon after
a spotty rain late Thursday and early Friday.
How rare is September rain? Historically, Sacramento averages 0.29 inches in September, but almost always that rain falls near the end of the month. October, which averages nearly an inch of rain, starts our official “rain year” and traditional rainy season.

So, even though it looked like rain, felt like rain (and sure sounded like a thunderstorm), Sacramento’s second longest dry spell will stretch a while longer. It’s possible that we may still break the all-time record. We’ll hit that 194-day mark on Sept. 29.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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