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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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For week of Dec. 10:

Take advantage of these dry but crisp conditions. It’s time to get out the rake!

* Rake leaves away from storm drains and keep gutters clear.

* Fallen leaves can be used for mulch and compost. Chop up large leaves with a couple of passes with a lawn mower.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. Without their foliage, trees are easier to prune.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Make sure to take frost precautions with new transplants and sensitive plants. Mulch, water and cover tender plants in the late afternoon to retain warmth.

* Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t water succulents before frost; cover instead. Use cloth sheets, not plastic. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eaves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Plant garlic (December's the last chance -- the ground is getting cold!) and onions for harvest in summer.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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