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Beware of falling branches; more wind, rain coming soon

Sacramento could get 4-plus inches of rain, wind gusts up to 50 mph

Trees or branches weakened earlier in winter can fall without warning in a windy storm.

Trees or branches weakened earlier in winter can fall without warning in a windy storm. Kathy Morrison

Get ready for a one-two punch of winter weather. It may be enough to knock over weakened trees and evergreen shrubs as well as cause flooding.
According to the National Weather Service, the Sacramento area can expect to be hit by another atmospheric river with up to 4 to 5 inches of rain. Arriving Thursday afternoon, that storm will be ushered in by strong winds.
The Thursday forecast predicts winds of 20 to 30 mph in Sacramento with gusts of 40 to 50 mph. Gusts in the foothills and mountains could reach 50 to 70 mph, says the weather service.

“Gusty southerly winds are forecast across interior NorCal Thursday afternoon through Friday afternoon creating difficult driving conditions, downed branches, and possible power outages,” tweeted the NWS Sacramento office on Wednesday. “Secure your outdoor objects and drive with caution in/around high-profile vehicles!”

The weather service also issued two weather alerts: A flood watch from 1 p.m. Thursday through 9 a.m. Sunday and a 24-hour high-wind advisory, starting at 4 p.m. Thursday.

This atmospheric river is tropical in origin; that means more rain than snow in the Sierra. However, that rain could melt snow at lower elevations, adding to flood risk, says the weather service. The flood watch extends from the Sierra foothills to Suisun Bay.

All this wind and rain puts big trees – particularly evergreens – at risk. Some redwoods, cedars and firs are already battered by a very active winter. If another branch is ready to break, this may be the weekend it comes down.

Beware of leaning trees. Their roots may be giving way. Our soil is already moist and soft; that makes it slippery, too. Sacramento received more than a half inch of rain in the series of showers that started March 4. That will seem like a puddle compared to the expected deluge.

The current forecast predicts 4.4 inches of rain between noon Thursday and Tuesday evening. But instead of chilly nights and days in the 40s, our temperatures will be near or above normal. Afternoon highs will hover in the low to mid 60s. The biggest change is overnight lows. Instead of near freezing, nighttime temperatures will stay mostly in the 50s.

Those higher overnight temperatures will help warm soil and speed spring growth. A lot of plants will appreciate all this moisture.

In the meantime, tie down the patio furniture. Clear gutters and storm drains of any debris. Move potted plants (especially succulents) to sheltered locations. All that rain can rot succulents as well as seedlings.

For more weather updates: https://www.weather.gov/sto/#.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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