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Rain on the way after another dry month

2022 could be driest year in Sacramento history

Here's a clogged drain and flooded gutter waiting to happen, with rain expected to begin in the early-morning hours Thursday.

Here's a clogged drain and flooded gutter waiting to happen, with rain expected to begin in the early-morning hours Thursday.

Kathy Morrison

Be prepared to get wet – and it’s about time. Sacramento is long overdue for a good, deep soaking.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento can expect 1.15 inches on Thursday, the first day of December. After a frosty Friday (with early-morning lows expected to hit 32 degrees), another inch of rain is predicted for this weekend.

That will get December’s rain totals off to a solid start. Historically, December in Sacramento averages 3.25 inches of precipitation.

But that average rainfall – if we do indeed see it – would almost match Sacramento’s total for all of 2022 so far. The first 11 months totaled only 3.60 inches of rain. That’s 25% of normal for that period.

October and November, the start of Sacramento’s rainy season and the new “water year,” historically average 2.62 inches. This season, Sacramento received no rain in October and 1.16 inches in November. Most of that moisture (0.81 inches) fell on Nov. 8, our last truly rainy day before this week’s storm system.

Our current water year total is 44% of normal; that’s better than 2022’s percentage so far but still a long way from average. If December doesn’t produce a deluge, 2022 looks like it will go down as the driest year in recorded Sacramento history.

So, yes, even with this week’s rain, we’re still in a drought. Sacramento averages 17.65 inches annually – 14 inches more than we’ve received so far this year – and it will take a very wet winter to make up for 2022’s moisture deficit.

In the meantime, prepare for Thursday's rain and Friday's frost. Make sure leaves are raked away from storm drains and gutters are clear. Then, keep the frost cloths handy for sensitive plants. 
One good thing about a storm before frost: Wet soil tends to keep plants warmer.


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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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