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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:


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

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

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

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

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

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

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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