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Be prepared: Triple-digit heat could torch July Fourth

Weather service declares 'Excessive Heat Watch' for Sacramento region

In very hot weather, squash and melons can get sunburned, too. Protect ripening vegetables before the high heat hits. For vining plants, stake shade cloth over the growing area, or put folded paper "hats" on each potential sunburn victim.

In very hot weather, squash and melons can get sunburned, too. Protect ripening vegetables before the high heat hits. For vining plants, stake shade cloth over the growing area, or put folded paper "hats" on each potential sunburn victim. Kathy Morrison

Are you ready for a red-hot Fourth?

Earlier Friday, the National Weather Service declared an “Excessive Heat Watch,” in effect from Tuesday morning, Ju;y 2, to next Friday night, July 5. That includes the July Fourth holiday and many planned outdoor celebrations.

“Heat could significantly impact outdoor holiday activities,” says the weather service. “Hottest temperatures are expected beginning Wednesday and continuing into next weekend.”

Be careful jumping into the American River or other cool spots. “Area waterways will continue to run cold and fast, creating dangerous conditions for those seeking relief in rivers and lakes,” says the weather service.

How hot will it get? “Dangerously hot conditions with high temperatures of 105 to 115,” says the weather service. “Limited overnight relief with low temperatures in the upper 60s to around 80. The result will be widespread Major to Extreme Heat Risk.”

The forecast for downtown Sacramento looks torched. After a weekend in the high 90s (10 degrees above normal), Sacramento is expected to hit 104 degrees Monday, and each day after just keeps getting hotter. The current forecast for July 4 in Sacramento: 109 degrees. Normal for that date: 90 degrees.

Although it has a well-earned reputation for summer heat, Sacramento isn't always crispy on the Fourth of July. The high on that holiday last year: 88 degrees.

The coming heat wave will be at its worst in the Sacramento Valley, northern San Joaquin Valley and surrounding foothills, predicts the weather service. Record highs could be hit in the cities of Sacramento, Modesto, Red Bluff, Marysville, Yuba City, Grass Valley, Stockton, Jackson, Chico, Paradise, Oroville, Alder Springs and Redding.

“Heat-related illnesses increase significantly during extreme heat events, particularly for those working or participating in outdoor activities,” warns the weather service.

Due to hot nights, mornings will be unusually warm, too. Sacramento could be in the 80s by 9 a.m.

If you have garden tasks, get them done as early as possible. Water in the early morning.

Also take other precautions:

* Provide temporary shade for seedlings and plants sensitive to sunburn, such as peppers and eggplants.

* Make sure mulch surrounds vegetable plants; it keeps roots cool and retains moisture.

* Check soil moisture before irrigating, but plants likely will need extra water during this heat spell, especially large-leafed squash and melons.

* It’s normal for plants to wilt in the afternoon during such heat. But if they’re still wilted in the morning, give them a drink.

The weather service adds these reminders:

* Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors.

* Do not leave young children and pets in unattended vehicles. Car interiors will reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes.

* Monitor the latest forecasts and warnings for updates.

For forecast updates and more information: https://www.weather.gov/sto/.

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Garden Checklist for week of July 14

Your garden needs you!

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to reduce the chance of fungal infection and to conserve moisture.

* Feed vegetable plants bone meal, rock phosphate or other fertilizers high in phosphate to stimulate more blooms and fruiting. (But wait until daily high temperatures drop out of the 100s.)

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week.

* Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more. Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* It's not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers.

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