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Freezing temperatures forecast for Sacramento region

Overnight lows could reach 29 degrees, kill crops and damage plumbing

Wet today, frozen tomorrow? The predicted temperature drop could harm tender plants and blossoms on fruit trees.

Wet today, frozen tomorrow? The predicted temperature drop could harm tender plants and blossoms on fruit trees. Kathy Morrison

Get ready for a big chill. Tuesday morning, the Sacramento office of the National Weather Service issued an “Urgent Weather Message” – freeze warnings for the next two nights.

With overnight lows expected to dip down to 29 to 32 degrees, back-to-back overnight freeze warnings will be in effect from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday (March 1 and 2) for Southern Sacramento Valley-Carquinez Strait and Delta-Northern San Joaquin Valley, says the bulletin. That includes the cities of Sacramento, Fairfield, Suisun City, Stockton and Modesto.

Potential impacts could be costly, warns the weather service. “Frost and freeze conditions will kill crops, other sensitive vegetation and possibly damage unprotected outdoor plumbing.”

Those subfreezing temperatures will hit after the Sacramento skies clear and the rain stops late Tuesday, so there’s little chance of snow or graupel, says the forecast.

These two freezes to start March follow a rainy end to February. With rain on six consecutive days, Downtown Sacramento recorded more than 2 inches, including a record 0.91 inches Friday (Feb. 24). All this precipitation will keep soil moist, which is good frost protection. Moist soil retains heat better than dry soil. That difference can raise the temperature around trees and shrubs by three or four degrees – just enough to stay above freezing and frost damage.

That rain also means there’s no need for added irrigation; turn off the sprinklers and drip systems.

Making sure there’s no water in landscape pipes, tubes and heads can help prevent damage during freezing temperatures, too.

Between showers Tuesday, take action. Move plants or add frost covers. Harvest ripe citrus.

The weather service recommends these precautions: “Take steps now to protect tender plants from the cold. To prevent freezing and possible bursting of outdoor water pipes, they should be wrapped, drained, or allowed to drip slowly. Those that have in-ground sprinkler systems should drain them and cover above-ground pipes to protect them from freezing.”

For more tips on freezing and frost: https://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/GARDEN/ENVIRON/frostdamage.html.

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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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