August for the most part picks right up with July’s warm, sometimes sunny, sometimes steamy — also stormy — days. But it also brings an unstoppable turning point.
Like it or not, on Aug. 6 summer is halfway over. That's “as we speed toward the first day of fall on Sep. 23,” said Bill Korbel, News 12 Long Island meteorologist. (And, let’s just say it. Who hasn't already seen those ads for back-to-school sales?)
With earth’s Northern Hemisphere tilting ever so slightly away, “you may have already noticed that the sun is rising a bit later and setting a bit earlier than a month ago,” he said.
With a tad less daylight each day, average daily temperatures have already peaked, leaving August to introduce the drip by drip by drip descent.
But, wait, summer lovers. No need for dark thoughts quite yet. Korbel reminds us that “we still get some very hot weather,” even having set record highs of 100 degrees at Long Island MacArthur Airport.
Then again … along with regular showers and thunderstorm activity, the month has also delivered “some notable tropical storms and hurricanes,” Korbel said, with a nod to the mid-1950s for being “especially busy.”
How about this year?
Korbel expects “the first week or two to average close to and maybe a bit below normal,” temperatures. And, “then, the second half of the month could be very warm.” That’s as the outlook from the Climate Prediction Center, under the umbrella of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is for the month to average out at warmer than normal.
And, there’s also this. “With ocean temperatures off Long Island and down the coast very warm this year,” Korbel said, “there is a slightly increased chance of tropical activity later this month.”
WHAT’S NORMAL, WHAT’S NOT
August is the first month to see an about face, temperature wise, starting out with normal daily highs of 82 degrees and overnight lows of 67 at the airport. By month's end, that's down to 78 degree highs, with 63 the low.
Temperatures have risen as high as 100 degrees in 2001 and 1975, and dropped as low as 45 in 1986 and 1965.
13 hours, 8 minutes of daylight by month’s end with sunrise at 6:19 a.m. and sunset at 7:27 p.m.
On average, the month sees 3.98 inches of precipitation.
But, it’s recorded as much as 14.07 inches of rain in 2014
And as little as 0.18 inches in 1964.
Normal is no snow at all.
We scoured our archives — and memories! — and here are some of the most notable weather events and how Newsday covered them at the time.
Aug. 31, 1954 Category 3 hurricane
Back in the waning days of August 1954 — Hurricane Carol, made landfall and delivered “angry seas and howling winds” to the tune of 100 mph, Newsday reported.
At the time, the Weather Bureau — precursor of the National Weather Service — described “a panorama of devastation — crumpled summer homes; sea coasts and harbors littered with splintered boats; flooded homes and factories; cities and towns without electricity or telephones."
Newsday told of thousands of trees toppled, with at least 40 blown across Long Island Rail Road tracks in Riverhead.
Through all that, no deaths were reported on the Island during the storm, though a Farmingville sailor “was swept off the deck” of a destroyer off the coast of New Jersey, and a repairman, atop a light pole in Islip Terrace, was later electrocuted after touching a “hot wire,” Newsday said.
In the few hours preceding landfall, the storm had, “increased in acceleration and intensity … to bring one of the most disastrous storms that has ever struck the Island,” according to the Weather Bureau.
Aug. 13, 2014 13.57 inches of rain
Seriously, you can forget about your April showers, given the fluke convergence of conditions that led to rainfall of 9.71 inches in the MacArthur Airport area.
That didn’t fall over one day. That was not over one morning or afternoon. That was over just TWO HOURS, shortly before the morning commute.
Still, no, no — we’re not done yet.
In all, the airport, over a 24-hour period, saw an astonishing and, needless to say, record-breaking statewide13.57 inches of rain.
“Pretty much mayhem — that’s the one word for it,” said an Islip Terrace man who was rescued from the Southern State Parkway by the North Babylon Fire Department. Having had to wade his way through the water, he told Newsday, “it was basically up to my hips.”
Still, the historic drenching was not Islandwide or even countywide. The worst of it, releasing its load of deep, tropical moisture, cut a roughly 40-mile wide diagonal path, for the most part, right up through Suffolk County.
The complex system — which the National Weather Service had been monitoring for days, warning of its threat of flash flooding — was a convergence of atmospheric disturbances, a low-pressure area and a very moist environment, said a weather service meteorologist in Upton. "A very small micro-scale event took place in that area," he said.
Such a phenomenon is "impossible to forecast," he said, because "there's not enough skill in the computer models to pinpoint that kind of extreme" on such a small scale.
All that led to the month’s being named wettest August on record, as well as tying October 2005 for most drenched month overall.
August 2006 5-day heat wave
The opening days of August that year would have done a blast furnace proud.
The first day of the month reached 95 degrees at the airport. The next, 98 degrees — to be followed by another 98-er. Then came 91. Then 90, making for a five-day heat wave, the longest for the month since records started being kept in September 1963, according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center.
Yes, other Augusts have seen gaggles of 90s — such as that of 1980, which produced eight such days, yet none even cracking 95.
No, there was something akin to a five-day blowtorch blast in 2006, leading the head of LILCO, the power company at the time, to say, “This is not really a heat wave. It’s a heat storm.”
And, was that made to feel worse, given humidity levels? Does an ice cream cone melt? In fact, that year it felt more like 105, 108, even up to 115 in some spots, Newsday reported, when humidity was factored in.
To help Long Islanders cope, Gov. George E. Pataki waved admission fees to state park beaches. Still, it must have been just too wilting for the Dixie Chicks, who canceled their concert at Jones Beach.
Some workers avoided going out in the steam-bathy air.
For others, nature’s call had to be answered, with one dog walker in Huntington Village turning back as her charges would go to the end of the block and no further.
Of the mixed lab and mixed hound, she said, “They’ll walk in the rain, in the snow, in thunder and lightning. This time they looked at me and said, ‘See ya.’”
HERE'S WHAT NEWSDAY READERS REMEMBER:
We asked our readers what about August weather sticks out in their memories and Tom Wilson, a Suffolk County Police Officer, recalled pulling off a rescue with fellow officer Matthew Detleiff during the 2014 record rainfall.
"County Road 83 became a river that morning between Middle Country Road and Old Town Road in Selden. Matt closed down traffic on the Middle Country Road side and I closed traffic on the Old Town Road side since County Road 83 could not be passed due to flooding from the 400-year rainstorm. An elderly gentleman, I forget his name, was disoriented and drove through Matt's road closure. The elderly male and his vehicle, a Subaru Forester, floated away. Matt and I ran/swam out to rescue him. … We carried/escorted the male to safety and to an ambulance on dry land. I remember the elderly male was wearing a WWII Navy hat and told me he was a WWII veteran."
Records and normals are based on data for Long Island MacArthur Airport going back to September 1963.
Sources/research: Northeast Regional Climate Center; National Weather Service, Upton; Newsday librarians