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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 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

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

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

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

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

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

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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