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Smoky skies bring a little relief from record heat

Weather service predicts big cooldown this weekend in Sacramento

These Betty Boop roses, usually with bright red edges, faded immediately in the heat and sun. Instead, their petals are edged in brown. Their stamens dried out quickly, too, depriving bees of food.

These Betty Boop roses, usually with bright red edges, faded immediately in the heat and sun. Instead, their petals are edged in brown. Their stamens dried out quickly, too, depriving bees of food.

Debbie Arrington

Smoky skies may bring an end to Sacramento’s string of record-hot days.

“It's a good news/bad news type of Friday here,” tweeted the Sacramento office of the National Weather Service. “Bad: #MosquitoFire smoke is affecting areas downwind of the fire. Good: Smoke may keep afternoon temps a few degrees cooler than originally forecast. Will have to wait & see how it plays out this afternoon during peak heating!”

That original forecast for Downtown Sacramento: 107 degrees.

Added the weather service, if you smell smell, avoid being outdoors.

This smoky day follows a record hot week including the all-time hottest temperature recorded in Sacramento: 116 degrees on Tuesday. (The weather service records go back to 1877.)

Thursday hit 113 – our 43rd triple-digit day this year. That set a new record -- the previous one was 41, set in 1988.

The combination of extreme heat and smoke has stressed plants as well as people. In my own garden, for example, my rose blooms are significantly smaller than usual. Petals are rimmed with brown before they open. Foliage looks sunburned – pale, silvery or toasted around the edges.

But more normal temperatures are on the way: Already in the forecast is a significant cooldown – a 20-degree drop – on Saturday, with clearer skies. “Onshore flow is expected to return tomorrow, so that should push the smoke more to the east/northeast,” tweeted the weather experts.

Weekend temperatures are expected to get no higher than 90 degrees in Sacramento. Afternoon highs in the low 80s are expected by Wednesday. Nighttime temperatures will be 20 degrees cooler, too, dipping into the mid 50s.

A pink rose with sunburned foliages
The heat dwarfed this Perfect Moment hybrid tea rose, usually a bright red and yellow blend. The bush's foliage shows signs of sunburn.

This weekend, survey the garden for heat stress. Trim off damaged foliage or toasted blooms. Rinse smoke residue off foliage. And enjoy some much better weather: The long-range September forecast is filled with days in the 80s.


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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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