Trees got a good, deep soaking from recent 'atmospheric rivers'
The recent storms left behind a lot of water, but not too much for our soil to hold. (To guard against mosquitoes, be sure to empty any buckets and saucers of water before it warms up again.) Kathy Morrison
When it came to our latest atmospheric rivers, Sacramento found a sweet spot: Good steady rain with a chance to sink in.
In the first eight days of February, Downtown Sacramento received 2.15 inches of rain – double the average for that period, says the National Weather Service. That includes just over an inch during the storm that hit Sunday-Monday, Feb. 4-5, and another half inch on Wednesday, Feb. 7.
As a whole, Sacramento County collection sites averaged 3.32 inches for the first seven days of February, says the weather service. Our second rainiest month behind January, February normally totals 3.59 inches.
Most of that rain had a chance to soak in, replenishing reserves for our suburban forest and landscapes as well as local orchards. That’s good news for trees as they continue to recover from years of drought.
Some communities – particularly those closer to the Bay Area – have been even wetter this month. Davis, for example, recorded 4.13 inches in those first eight days – almost 3 inches above normal.
Locally, wind caused more issues than rain. The strong gusts that accompanied Sunday’s precipitation knocked over dozens of trees (and brought down lots of limbs) as well as many fences. But the local destruction was light compared to last winter’s storms that uprooted hundreds of drought-weakened trees in Sacramento and surrounding cities.
Elsewhere around California, this week’s storms took a heavy toll, causing flooding and mudslides. Long Beach (my hometown) totaled more than 10 inches Feb. 1-7; normal for that week is 0.79. That includes a record 3.16 inches on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Long Beach rarely gets more than 10 inches of rain in an entire year.
All this rain has prompted a wet outlook for our state’s water year. No drought is in the picture, says the National Integrated Drought Information System. (Find its localized data at https://www.drought.gov/.)
NIDIS expects our precipitation to continue to track high. The forecast calls for “60 to 70% probability of above normal precipitation” for the rest of February and “100 to 150% of normal precipitation” for the next 60 days.
Meanwhile, enjoy a sunny break in the weather. Sacramento’s next chance of showers is Thursday, Feb. 15.
More on local weather: https://www.weather.gov/sto/#
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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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