Dan Rattiner's Stories

Weather 2018: It Rained Like Hell in the Hamptons, But NOAA Can’t Tell You for Sure

How can one research the weather during this shutdown? We miss Richard G. Hendrickson.

All us media people have our little tricks. Something happens in town, we have people in government we can call. Thus we can bring you the latest news and, if we are so inclined, our perspective on it.

It came to my attention this fall that we’ve had a bit of rain here in the Hamptons, maybe four days every week. I noticed it first right after the film festival. And it went on and on, a bit of rain every day. It reminded me of Seattle. They say Seattle gets buckets of rainfall every year, and the totals are high, but not that high. It’s the frequency of the rain that leads you to that conclusion. It comes down in little showers almost every day. So you get a lot of cloudy times and not so much sun.

What was happening here in the Hamptons during the last quarter of the year reminded me of that. Cloudy and not much sun in the fall means a downturn in tourism. It was noticeable to me that the downtowns were not so crowded as usual. Parking was not a problem. Was I correct?

I knew who to call. I have an in with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) weather center people in Islip. So I called them, told the person who answered the phone what I wanted to know and asked if I could speak to the guy I know. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

“We can’t talk to you,” he said, bitterly. “It’s the shutdown. We’re only sending out weather alerts. Call back when the government shutdown is over and we can give you the stats about last quarter.”

Unspoken was they were not getting paid.

So there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth. NOAA is furloughed to the basics. Mum’s the word.

So here’s my source for the rain almost every day from October through December. I shoot hoops in my driveway, weather permitting, every day. I have a backboard attached to the garage. This fall, weather was not permitting. I can’t play in the rain. I was playing two days a week, maybe three. That’s my source. Take it or leave it.

Here’s the compromise that I think should be agreed upon to end the shutdown. The compromise involves both sides doing something they don’t want to do.

Build a fence along the southern border where there is no fence. Keep in mind that prior presidents have built tall fences in places. This is not new. It is just that our president is so obnoxious. Overlook that.

In exchange for building still more fences to complete the job, the existing base of immigrants without paperwork should be given a path to citizenship that would take five years—not only the dreamers and not only those fleeing danger back home, but all of them, except those who have been arrested and convicted of major crimes during the last 10 years. They should be deported, and if they come back, jailed.

I would make the cut-off point for illegal immigration amnesty be the day most of the fences are in place and the law is put into effect.

Nancy Pelosi says no wall should be built because that is not what America is all about. Well, it’s also not about law-abiding people without papers terrified to be in what is the equivalent of a fascist state where federal officers can tap them on the shoulder anytime and send them off to a holding pen. This has been going on since the George W. Bush presidency. Obama built fences too.

Life was so much simpler in the old days. The weather service in the Hamptons between 1930 and 2015 was attended to by Richard G. Hendrickson, a farmer who lived on Lumber Lane in Bridgehampton and kept his weather data equipment on his property. He was my secret contact for all those years, until he passed on at the age of 103, and right up to the end he could recite to me over the phone—and to anyone else who called or stopped by—the number of rain dates we had in October, November and December compared to the normal.

He lived through it all. He told me all about the day the Hurricane of ’38 came through and all his chickens were blown four feet up against the inside of the chicken-wire fence.

And he could tell you that temperatures exceeding 100 in the shade took place about every five years in the Hamptons, but now it’s three times a summer. “It’s global warming,” he said. And he knew.

We miss you, Dick.

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