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Will Sacramento have a normal rain year?

Holiday storms put averages back on track

Time to empty the rain gauge, before another storm arrives. The Sacramento area has received nearly 6 inches of rain -- and a little more than that in the northern part of the county -- since the Water Year started Oct. 1.

Time to empty the rain gauge, before another storm arrives. The Sacramento area has received nearly 6 inches of rain -- and a little more than that in the northern part of the county -- since the Water Year started Oct. 1. Kathy Morrison

Happy New Year! We start this new month sunny, but more rain is coming soon.

And that’s a good thing.

Holiday storms boosted December’s rain total to 4.69 inches in Sacramento – 37% above average for the month.

We needed it. After a relatively dry autumn, our Water Year – which measures the rain we receive from Oct. 1 to Sept 30 – was tracking below normal.

Thanks to that Christmas week rain, our total since Oct. 1 is now 5.65 inches in Downtown Sacramento. Average for that same three months: 5.94 inches.

According to the National Weather Service, more moisture is coming very soon. A new storm system is expected to arrive Tuesday night and drop a half inch to one inch of rain by Wednesday afternoon. Those showers will be followed by more rain on Friday night and Saturday.

That could make for damp conditions for Sacramento’s annual McKinley Park Rose Garden prune-a-thon on Saturday, Jan. 6. Volunteers and city crews are expected to be out pruning Saturday morning, rain or shine.

Such in-and-out storm systems are normal for winter in Sacramento. January is typically among Sacramento’s rainiest months, averaging 3.64 inches.

This rain may seem like a lot, but it’s just a puddle compared to what we experienced this time last year. Sacramento recorded 2.12 inches of rain on New Year’s Eve 2022, topping off 7.79 inches for December 2022.

By comparison, 2024’s rain picture may be starting out just right – not too much, not too little, but enough to give trees a nice, deep soak.

For more updates on Sacramento weather: https://www.weather.gov/sto/.

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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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