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Jul 23, 2019 10:27 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Some Observations Of Normal Weather

Jul 23, 2019 11:26 AM

It seems like it has been 10 years since the last time it was truly hot.I don’t think it has been quite that long, but it has been at least several years since we had a sustained heat wave. It had me thinking back to the 1990s and early 2000s, the first years when I had jobs that forced me to sometimes do unpleasant work, outdoors, but not on the water, and I first started paying real attention to the heat of summer.

In those days, we here on Long Island typically had about a two-week period of more or less unbroken hot-and-humid misery. Stretches of over a dozen days well into the 90s, with humidity in the 80- to 90-percent range that just made you drip sweat and yearn to be in the water (even being on it some days was uncomfortably baking).

This past Friday, Saturday and Sunday reminded me of those days. But, of course, they were just a few days and it has been at least seven years since we had more than one day anything like them. Summers, for the last several years, anyway, have been what one might call quite perfect: they start early—I can’t remember the last time it was gray and cold on Memorial Day like it typically was for most of my life, they never get too hot and there are just the right amount of rain-out days to keep the stores, lunch spots and movie theaters on hamlet main streets happy.

On the flip side, our winters have been trending in more or less the same direction away from the traditional peak severity. The cold doesn’t come on as fast. The real cold snaps don’t last as long, and the winters when it just never really gets bitterly cold for more than a few days are more and more frequent.

And while the depths of cold in winter aren’t as deep, the warm-up in the spring definitely seems to be taking even longer, thanks to especially cold early springs. March was the coldest month in three of the last five winters, and April seems to rarely see days above the low 50s. And even May days seem to struggle to reach 60 degrees in a lot of recent years. It’s like we hurry up to get to spring, then keep kicking the can down the road.

I know that three decades worth of one man’s weather observations are but a brief breeze in terms of assessing changing meteorological patterns, but it feels from my slip like we’re clearly in a new normal, or habit anyway. For the time being, the world’s changing climate is definitely bringing to our area some moderation. For better or worse.

From the standpoint of a South Fork sportsman, I’m not sure if any of this is a good thing or not. The moderate summers are certainly nice, with cool days and easterly winds prevailing into May and June nowadays, and summer doldrums never seemingly as stagnant as in the past.

Without the high heat days in summer, the southwesterlies that define our prevailing winds are not as strong, which means fewer days of wind-against-tide drifts, lumpy surf and uncomfortable runs home. But it also may not be as good for the building of summer beaches to tide us through winter.

The moderate winters, while also more pleasant to live through, I don’t think are as good for the ecological balance we are used to. The cold kills a lot of bad stuff. Minnow species typically explode in numbers after hard winters, and there have definitely been fewer killiefish in the local marshes this summer. The lack of cold has wreaked havoc on duck migrations and left a lot of hunters twiddling their thumbs as sunshine beams down on their red faces behind the blind grass. And most guys can’t remember the last time they took their ice boats out.

There’s no telling if these weather patterns will last, or how they will affect our sporting world in the long run, of course. So for now, the fluke fishing in the ocean is good enough to be worth going. Striped bass are biting well in Montauk, especially in the dark, and the bigeye tuna bite over the horizon continues to be excellent.

Catch ’em up. See you out there.

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