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2022 rain total? Sacramento's driest year on record thus far

Since Jan. 1, Sacramento has received only 2 inches --10.6 below average

Soaker hose on mulch
A soaker hose can deliver a long, slow drink of
water to precious trees and shrubs. Mulch helps
keep the moisture from evaporating
too quickly. If possible, position the hose under
the mulch for a better soak.
(Photo: Kathy Morrison)


How dry are we? Our lack of rain is taking on historical proportions.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento has recorded its driest first five months in 128 years. That’s how long the weather service has been keeping track of our rain totals.

And so far in 2022, those totals have been mighty bleak. Since Jan. 1, downtown Sacramento has recorded just over 2 inches – 2.01 – in total precipitation, says the weather service. That includes 0.06 for all of May. Normal for May: 0.84 inches.

Rain totals for March (0.94) and April (0.96) were less than 1 inch for each month. That followed a rainless February and a nearly dry January (0.05).

Sacramento’s normal rainfall total for the first five months: 12.6 inches. That’s almost a 10.6-inch shortfall. (And yes, that means we are in a drought – again.)

Don’t expect much June precipitation to add to those totals. Sacramento’s June rainfall averages 0.21 inches – or one good summer cloudburst. According to the weather service, there’s a 25% chance of showers Sunday, June 5, but it will only be a drizzle (if it materializes) – 0.03 inches.

That lack of good soaking rain can mean rock-hard soil – particularly in areas without regular irrigation. Without a source of moisture, roots of trees and shrubs tend to die back, weakening the plant and causing instability.

To save your landscape, deep-water trees and shrubs. Give them a long, slow drink with a soaker hose.

Lack of moisture also increases fire danger. Grasses and other vegetation in unirrigated pastures and wilderness areas have already dried out and browned to a crisp. One spark can start a wildfire.

In breezy conditions (such as this week), avoid mowing dry grass or using power tools that may strike a rock and spark.

May also continued a trend of warmer than usual weather. Daily highs averaged 83.6 degrees, 2.4 above normal.

What can we expect in June? Besides mostly dry days, June averages highs of 87 degrees and lows of 56. But triple digits are not uncommon. The hottest June day on record in Sacramento: 115 degrees.

For more on Sacramento weather: https://www.weather.gov/sto/#

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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