As dry spell nears record, some in Sacramento pray for rain

A sea of blue-and-teal-clad bodies swayed to music as a Sacramento exercise group danced for rain Sunday.

“Rain, rain, rain,” went the lyrics to one song. “Oh come, beautiful rain.”

Sunday, more than 60 people gathered at Coloma Community Center in east Sacramento for the weekly practice session of 5 Rhythms, a form of moving meditation.

Their “Sweat Your Prayers” event called for rain, which Sacramento has not seen for 43 days.

January is typically the wettest month for Sacramento, with 3.97 inches of precipitation. But this year, there has nary been a drop since Jan. 1, and only 1.75 inches since July 1, the beginning of the water year.

“We’re 18 percent of normal,” said Karl Swanberg, forecast meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

What’s worse, Sacramento is on course to break the record of consecutive days without rain on Tuesday. The record of 44 days without moisture in Sacramento was set Nov. 15 to Dec. 28, 1976.

So Bella Dreizler, facilitator for 5 Rhythms Sacramento, set out Sunday to rhythmically seed the clouds.

“It’s an opportunity for us to come together in a community and dedicate our dance to prayer,” Dreizler said. “We’re praying with our bodies.”

She noted that many of the 5 Rhythms sessions have a theme centered around the elements – earth, fire, water and air. Water is connected to the human body in various ways: “We sweat, we bleed, we pee,” said Dreizler. “We drink and we wash with water.”

Similar “Sweat Your Prayers” were held in 10 Northern California cities Sunday – all praying for rain in the state.

This latest dry streak started on Dec. 7. It is unlikely to end this week, despite a low-pressure system from the Pacific Northwest coming in Wednesday.

“It will weaken the high-pressure ridge a little, but it’s a glancing blow,” Swanberg said.

“We might have a few clouds in the Valley, but it’s dry for us. There may be some isolated showers Wednesday through Friday for the mountains, but we will not see rain in the Valley through Saturday.”

The normal high for this time of year is 54 degrees, and the normal low is 41 degrees.

Monday’s expected high of 69 degrees will match the record set for the date in 1976. Lows will drop to 36 degrees.

Tuesday is forecast to reach 68 degrees, just shy of the record 70 degrees posted in 1976. The low will be one degree below the normal 41.

Wednesday may see a high of 69 degrees, which would match the record set in 2011. Nighttime lows will be 38 degrees.

On Thursday, the low-pressure system will start moving in, bringing clouds to the Valley but not rain.

It’s the reason Dreizler invited Maggie Steele, a Native American youth counselor, to offer prayers for rain at the 5 Rhythms session Sunday.

“I want to offer a song, asking for rain and for unity,” said Steele, 49, of Sacramento. “It’s not going to rain, but we’re planting a seed. We need to take care of our water.”

She said Native American people have ceremonies for everything important, including rain. “They give us energy and hope,” she said.

She brought her special “water drum,” which is decorated with blue waves, to the gathering Sunday.

Steele offered three prayers – the first for humanity, which the members of 5 Rhythms joined in singing while sitting on the ground.

Weh yah, weh yah, weh yah, weh, yo,” the group chanted along with Steele.

For the prayer for rain, Steele had everyone stand up as she continued to beat the drum, prompting many to stamp their feet and some to clap in time.

“When you take a shower, pray to the water and say, ‘Thank you, Creator,’ ” she told the gathering. “Sweat and tears and water – it is all the same.”

The last prayer was for strength, and involved loud calling and drumming by Steele. After she was finished, everyone clapped. As she slipped out the door, Dreizler put on another drumming song, and the crowd resumed its gyrations.

“We’re here to dance for more rain,” said Jon Bowles, 57, of Sacramento, who has been coming to the 5 Rhythms sessions for a little over a year. “If enough people are thinking about it, and putting that idea out there, it can make it rain.”

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