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September heat wave dangerous for gardeners

National Weather Service warns people to stay indoors

If you do have to be in the garden the next few days, make it as early in the day as possible. Wear a hat and drink plenty of water -- then scurry indoors.

If you do have to be in the garden the next few days, make it as early in the day as possible. Wear a hat and drink plenty of water -- then scurry indoors. Kathy Morrison

September’s heatwave has been epic, and the month isn't even a week old. Just ask the National Weather Service.

“Heat like this is rare and can be deadly,” the Sacramento NWS office tweeted Monday morning. “Entire population is at risk.”

With more triple-digit days on the way, the weather service’s excessive-heat warning has been extended through 8 p.m. Thursday.

After a balmy night in the high 70s, Monday started hot and got hotter. By 10 a.m., temperatures were already in the high 80s and headed north of 110.

“Labor Day will be very hot across interior #NorCal as the current heatwave cranks up another notch!” tweeted the weather service. “Most of the Central Valley is expected to see high temperatures above 110 degrees this afternoon. Practice heat safety!”

This string of extremes is unusual, added the weather service. “How significant is this September Heatwave? Several high and warm low temperature records could be broken, as well as the number of 100° and 110° days in a calendar year,” it tweeted.

On Monday, the weather service estimated that Downtown Sacramento had an 80% chance of breaking September’s all-time record of 109 degrees. That mark was tied on Labor Day 2020. Local predictions ranged from 110 to 112 degrees.

But the heat doesn’t stop there. The weather service says there’s an almost 1 in 4 chance – 24% – that Downtown Sacramento hits its all-time record high temperature of 114 degree on Tuesday; maybe not break it, but match it. Ouch!

“A prolonged period of dangerous heat is expected across interior NorCal this week (during this) excessive heat event,” the weather service says. “Everyone is at risk for heat-related illnesses if precautions are not taken. Drink plenty of water, seek air conditioning, and avoid spending time outdoors.”

No matter how much we want to go out and work in our gardens, now is not the time. Water as early as possible. Harvest anything that’s close to ripe. Then, retreat to some space in front of a fan. Show your houseplants some TLC.

Fortunately, the “heat dome” causing this triple-digit spree can’t stay there forever. The weather service expects temperatures to cool back to normal – 91 degrees – by Sunday.

For more on Sacramento weather:


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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