Do Thy Worst: Hurricanes Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Etc.

Hurricaines and pigs cartoon by Mickey Paraskevas
Cartoon by Mickey Paraskevas

So the National Weather Service just changed their prediction. No longer will four hurricanes come up the Atlantic this summer. Now the prediction is for seven.

I wrote last fall that the National Weather Service launched a new weather forecasting satellite capable of giving us virtually 100% accurate predictions all across America of the upcoming weather. I’ve been dreading having this happen. There will be no surprises. It will take all the fun out of life. And on several occasions during the past 10 months I’ve asked the weather service—yes, they take my calls—if the thing is up and running, because I don’t see anything new, and they’ve told me not yet, it’s still up there undergoing tests.

Last time I called was three weeks ago. Now it could be online in November.

Which does lead to the question of whether this upgrade in the hurricane prediction department is from the creepy old weather satellite or the shiny new one now being tested. I called again. They’re only a regional office and they’re not sure.

You will recall that about four weeks ago we had an alert that a huge rainstorm was approaching and by 3 p.m. all of the East End would get floods. There would be airport closings, roads impassable. Everybody got ready. The thunderclouds formed. Then it cleared up. That was it.

About four months ago, I asked the weather service if they would look into something. I was recalling that years ago, when I was a boy, the average temperature in the summertime in the Hamptons was said to be three degrees cooler than in New York City, then you’d go down the hill to Napeague heading for Montauk and it was now six degrees cooler. I also recalled back then, when I was trying to decide where I would make my home in the Hamptons, I ruled out Sag Harbor because it seemed too hot. Like New York City hot. No ocean breezes there. I settled in East Hampton.

Now, I told him, according to my iPhone, New York City is 5 to 10 degrees warmer than the Hamptons on average. And Montauk is the same as the Hamptons.

“I think it has to do with all the landscaping,” I said. “Montauk used to be windswept. Now all the views are gone. There’s too much foliage. I think it’s because of the pollen coming off all the fancy new landscaping in the Hamptons. Grows trees tall in Montauk.”

“I’ll look into it,” he told me.

Or maybe it’s climate change. The temperature creeps up. Montauk crosses a threshold. Back then I’d play golf at the Montauk Downs Country Club—a “downs” like in Scotland, where the windswept hills go to the horizon. Now the fairways cut through the woods.

“Let me get back to you on this,” he said.

Just look in all your back records for 50 years and figure it out.

I never heard back, but two months later an article in Newsday said boxes and boxes of old printed weather records for Long Island had been found in a warehouse in Nassau County that everyone thought was lost forever. They covered 1950 to 1980.

I wouldn’t worry about the hurricane prediction. Every year it seems its wrong. It’s going to be really quiet and we get eight hurricanes. It’s gonna be a banner year for hurricanes and we get none.

There have been some really great hurricanes. The one in 1938 knocked down all the elm trees on Main Street in East Hampton, wiped Dune Road clean of summer homes and flooded both Montauk Fishing Village and Westhampton Beach. A hurricane in the early 1950s blew a winged roof off a fancy modern summer home in Surfside, Montauk.

In 1975 I stayed with about 10 people at a home on Egypt Lane in East Hampton rented by Abraham Ratner, the painter. We huddled together with no power for five days. In late August around 1990, the Hampton Classic Horse Show put up all their tents and then, the day before opening day the hurricane blew everything down. In recent years we’ve had hurricanes that fizzled before they got here but still laid waste with massive high tides and rain. Sandy comes to mind. Not Hurricane Sandy.

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