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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:


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

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

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* 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 help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* 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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