July ended close to three degrees above the average monthly temperature of 76.8 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. And, despite seven days reaching the 90s, none came three in a row, so no official heat wave.
That would be at Long Island MacArthur Airport, where the National Weather Service has maintained the Island’s official weather records since 1984.
Still, who’s quibbling?
Certainly other spots on the Island could have seen three consecutive 90 or above days during a warm stretch that started the week before last, especially areas of inland Nassau and along the North Shore, said Chris Stachelski, weather service meteorologist based on Long Island.
Plus, the “feels like” temperatures in the 90s brought on by the humidity made for a string of hot, muggy and uncomfortable days.
The month also registered a rainfall deficit of about a fifth of an inch, with 3.43 inches the average — this on the heels of four months that also saw below-normal precipitation.
With the Island in moderate drought for about a month, central Suffolk County was upgraded last week to be deemed in severe drought by the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The airport in Islip “managed to pick up 1.13 inches of rain during the last three days of July,” but even with that, June and July’s rainfall totaled just 4.35 inches, which is 56 percent of normal, said Brad Rippey, meteorologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who prepared the Monitor’s summary statement last week.
Since Jan. 1, the airport has seen 21.54 inches of precipitation, which is 5.62 inches below normal, he said.
The western edge of the Suffolk area in severe drought runs from near the western tip of Fire Island National Seashore up to around Stony Brook on Long Island Sound, he said. The eastern edge runs from near the eastern tip of Fire Island, northeast up to near Riverhead, a bit west of Peconic Bay.
Recent hot weather and lack of rainfall prompted the Suffolk County Water Authority to ask its customers to conserve water. The utility posted its request on its website July 20, urging consumers to “conserve water whenever possible.”
Besides central Suffolk, a large section of western New York is also in severe drought, according to the Monitor. The upgraded severe level means that: “crop or pasture losses likely, water shortages common, water restrictions imposed,” the Monitor says.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation said Friday in a tweet that the state “remains under a drought watch.” The tweet linked to the DEC’s posting of July 15 that said: “There are no statewide mandatory water use restrictions in place under a drought watch. However, local public water suppliers may require such measures depending upon local needs and conditions.”
The Suffolk water agency asked that those using irrigation systems, residential or commercial, adjust from morning watering to evening. Most of the water used in such irrigation is from 2 to 7 a.m., the agency said; adjusting the watering times to between 9 p.m. and midnight would shift the burden.
“Keeping nonessential water use to a minimum is critical during this time of the summer, when SCWA pumps are fighting to keep up with peak demand,” the water agency said in its post.
The agency also asked customers to limit other nonessential uses, ranging from the washing of vehicles to hosing down streets, sidewalks and driveways.
On Thursday, Smithtown officials, citing high temperatures, sent an alert to residents asking them to avoid watering lawns between 3 and 8 a.m.
Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter is asking residents and business owners to cut back on watering lawns through the next month. Walter said in a news release last week that the Riverhead Water District had implemented an odd-even day lawn watering schedule.
Walter said he asked residents and business owners to cooperate, but fines would not be imposed for violations. He said he expected the alternate-day watering plan to be in effect through the end of August “if the summer continues the way it has been.”
With Lisa Irizarry