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October weather preview: Early predictions, record events and more

Peter Brancaleone from Floral Park chooses from among

Peter Brancaleone from Floral Park chooses from among the snow-coated pumpkins at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Central Nassau in Garden City, Oct. 29, 2011. Photo Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

October is when the heat of the sun beckons instead of repels.

Trees come into their glory, their leaves rivaling sunsets. The crunch of apples and pears replaces the delights of their softer berry and peach cousins.

With Halloween closing out the month, age-old questions loom:  When is it too soon to start decorating, or thinking about costumes? Will a cold spell or rain ruin the effect? 

For Long Islanders and others along the Eastern Seaboard, October reawakens memories of the calamitous superstorm Sandy of 2012, whose high-speed winds and walls of water killed at least 147 people in the Northeast United States, Canada and the Caribbean.  

The aftermath on Long Island — families uprooted, some confronted with costly repairs and bitter, drawn-out fights with insurers and government bureaucrats — might linger for years to come.

One of the many anomalies of that storm, which hit Long Island on Oct. 29, is that October typically has far fewer hurricanes and tropical storms than September does, according to statistics from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

On average, 0.3452 hurricanes made landfall in this country in October from 1851 to 2018, versus 0.6428 during those Septembers, according to NOAA. As for tropical storms, the average for October over the same span was 2.1429, versus 3.6667 in September.

For NOAA's list, see:  https://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/E17.html

How about this year?

This October likely will be warmer than usual, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center said, but there are around equal chances of below, or normal, or above amounts of precipitation.

Extra rain might be welcome: Long Island is "abnormally dry," according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. It rated the swath of states from West Virginia and Maryland northeastward into southern New England as either moderately or abnormally dry. 

Those dry conditions could disappoint those hoping for spectacular leaves; brown might be the dominant color, according to experts.

Predicting the month's weather isn't much of a treat for at least some forecasters.

"Unfortunately this is probably the trickiest time of the year to be able to forecast across the United States because we are coming out of the summertime pattern and going into the fall pattern," said Anthony Artusa, a College Park, Maryland-based meteorologist with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

The westerlies, which flow along the nation's midsection from west to east, are weakest in summer and strongest in winter, experts said. In autumn, Artusa explained, the westerlies can turn rather far south. "So it's very dynamic ... there are a lot of day-to-day changes," he said.

Those winds not only cool the coast, he said, they help weaken summer thunderstorms sweeping in from New Jersey in the west, Artusa said. Those storms, he said, "would prefer to have nice, humid air to develop."

However, as the temperature of both the land and ocean declines during autumn, those sea breezes have "a diminishing effect," he said. 

The meteorologist grew up in Woodmere, so he's familiar with the South Shore's sea breezes and their effects. 

WHAT'S NORMAL, WHAT'S NOT

TEMPS

The mean temperature in October is 54.3 degrees — slightly more than 10 degrees cooler than September's mean, according to the weather service. October's maximum is 63; the minimum 45.5.

The hottest October since 1963, when Islip’s records began, was just two years ago:  61.9, the weather service said. The coolest was 1988's 49.7. The record daily high was 85 degrees in 2011. 

By month's end, daylight will have shrunk to 11 hours and 27 minutes, with the sun rising at 6:22 a.m. and setting at 4:49 p.m.

11 hours, 27 minutes of daylight by month’s end with sunrise at 6:22 a.m. and sunset at 4:49 p.m.

PRECIP

The normal amount of rain is 3.79 inches.

The wettest October was in 2005, with 14.07 inches of rain, the weather service said. The driest was in 2000, with a scant 0.18 inch of precipitation.

SNOW

Normal is zero; the snowiest October occurred in 2011, when 0.3 of an inch fell. 

WILD WEATHER

In addition to its death toll, superstorm Sandy's rage damaged or destroyed at least 650,000 houses, cut power to 8.5 million customers, and even caused blizzard conditions in western North Carolina and West Virginia, NOAA estimated.

On Long Island, the storm washed 10 billion gallons of garbage, oil and sewage into basements and onto lawns, and fouled the ocean and beaches. Nearly 100,000 homes, businesses, schools, government buildings and other structures were at least partly demolished.

While few of the storms that battered Long Island during October — at least in the modern era — have caused as much suffering as Sandy, others have left their mark.

1954 Hazel bypasses LI

Long Island was spared the worst by Hurricane Hazel in 1954, which killed 400 to 1,000 people in Haiti on Oct. 11 before striking the Carolinas coast as a Category 4 storm, the National Hurricane Center said. While its winds then slowed, Hazel pummeled eight states as it blasted north on an inland track.

Bypassing Long Island by 175 miles, Hazel still was powerful enough to extinguish power for as many as half a million people. In Merrick, a 10-year-old girl riding her bicycle on a hurricane-darkened street died after being struck by a car. The U.S. death toll was 95, the National Hurricane Center said; another 100 died in Canada. 

Among the nor'easters that targeted Long Island in October was one that dumped as much as 2 inches of rain on Oct. 25, 2005. That storm completely submerged Orient Beach State Park on the North Fork and nearly pushed half a dozen Sagaponack homes into the sea. Flooding was fairly widespread, and water topped the Long Beach's bulkheads in Reynolds Channel.  

WHAT NEWSDAY READERS REMEMBER

We asked our readers what about October sticks out in their memories. Here's what they said:

Mariah Melis, Holtsville

October is my birthday month! Growing up, my mom threw me awesome birthday parties on the front lawn of our house; some of them being costume parties. Fortunately, we always had nice, autumn weather the day of my parties. Parties included obstacle courses, DJ, face painting, caricatures and sand art. One birthday, we bought a toy skeleton and hid pieces of it around our lawn. We called the game “Find Skelly’s Bones”. My friends and I had to search around for the bones and put him back together! Cars drove by the house slow to see what was going on. Years later, my friends still comment on the memorable parties my mom threw me. They were great family memories that I will cherish with me forever and plan on keeping the tradition when I have children of my own.

Joann Balnis, Central Islip

Growing up, our parents always took to us to Mill Neck Manor Fall Festival. My grandparents would also go with us. It was a very special time in the Fall. We would run through the leaves, eat candied apples and cheeses while running away from the bees and my sister, brother and I would get pumpkins. One of the best times I remember there was rolling down the big hill and racing to see who would get to the bottom. This was a wonderful Fall memory with my family.

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