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Long IslandColumnists

Already in drought and it's not yet summer

A view from Grumman Airport during the early

A view from Grumman Airport during the early stages of the Suffolk fires. (April 9, 2012) Credit: John Roca

How's that drought coming? Step under my umbrella. We can discuss it here.

It's always tempting -- isn't it? -- to sneer at dire warnings when the evidence points the opposite way. Ask Al Gore, whose global-warming lectures are inevitably scheduled on the mornings of major snowstorms. He may have the science on his side. But all those parkas in the auditorium set a deeply skeptical tone.

That's where we are this weekend as the National Weather Service reports the driest Long Island winter and spring in 13 years. The U.S. Drought Monitor is using words like "extreme" and "severe." That little spritz on Wednesday night? It did nothing. The gauge at Long Island MacArthur Airport still showed a rainfall total since Jan. 1 of 9 inches below normal.

We need more rain around here. That's as hard to miss as a parched-ground brush fire in Manorville.

Are you with me? Maybe not.

With clouds as heavy as these and forecasters warning darkly, "Flash floods!" no one's in much of a mood for finger-wagging -- at least not until this low-pressure system blows through.

Then we'll get all the lawn-sprinkler lectures and the swimming-pool guilt -- and all the tired jokes about showering with a friend.

See you at the Drought of 2012. It's still a tough sell.


1. "Dry Me a River"

2. "Singing in the Pain"

3. "Balmy Monday"

4. "Purple Strain"

5. "The Rain Will Come Out Tomorrow"

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Rain dance worked, huh? . . . Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko wants more "prescribed burns"? Is that the brush-fire equivalent of destroying the village to save it? . . . With Sears Hardware pulling out of Lindenhurst, North Babylon and Hauppauge, know where I can exercise the unwarranted lifetime warranty on my Craftsman wrenches set should they ever fail to satisfy me, which they haven't yet? . . . Suffolk County Ethics Commission -- didn't you realize even the name was a joke? Tom Spota's grand jury isn't laughing now . . . Wanna see steam come out of Kevin Law's ears? Just say "commuter tax" so the LIA chief executive can hear. But wait -- wouldn't a city commuter tax make LI businesses comparatively more competitive?

THE NEWS IN SONG: Who needs a weatherman? "I Think It's Going to Rain Today," Randy Newman:


We find our basketball heroes younger and younger these days. Keep an eye out for 13-year-old point guard Jared Rivers. The 170-pound 6-footer is on his way to Christ the King High School in September. College and NBA scouts are already taking notice. The high school's great backcourt tradition has launched Derrick Phelps (North Carolina), Eric Barkley and Omar Cook (St. John's), Erving Walker (Florida) and this year's sensation, Omar Calhoun (UConn). The son of a city cop and an LI schoolteacher, Jared is "as fundamentally sound and mentally tough a youngster as I have ever seen," says CTK JV coach Artie Cox. The new kid just led his AAU team, The New Rens, to the playoffs of the Super League JV division at Island Garden, beating the previously undefeated Blue Bombers, a squad of high-school all-stars with two 6-foot-9 15-year-olds. That's 6-foot-9 -- and growing.


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