Heat, humidity and hedonism — that sort of sums up July.
Thankfully the first two items on that list are not quite as dreaded as they may be by August — and so many of summer’s pleasures, from picking local blackberries to an ocean swim, cannot be denied.
July also might be time to reveal whether one kept up with exercise during the pandemic — or whether a new regime succeeded — as a minimalist approach to clothes and swimsuits becomes irresistible.
That freedom to discard cares and layers of clothes is unique to summer as many writers, including architecture critic extraordinaire Ada Louise Huxtable, have extolled.
“Summer is the time when one sheds one's tensions with one's clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all's right with the world.”
And if a slightly roly-poly beach body prompts one to hesitate, remember European sophisticates have long spurned this country’s sometimes more modest attempts at cover-ups.
Of course the summer of 2020 is unique, thanks to COVID-19, for countless reasons, from canceled July Fourth concerts and fireworks and parades to tan lines around masks.
Children might be the most affected as summer usually offers them the most freedom: no school, no jackets, mittens or boots, and so much more time to explore during the longer days. Yet long sojourns at sleep away camps might not be an option during the pandemic — possibly troubling both young and old as dancer Isadora Duncan’s brother Raymond noted: "A lot of parents pack up their troubles and send them off to summer camp."
HOW ABOUT THIS YEAR?
Brace yourself: July 2020 probably will be warmer than usual for New York, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center.
“Current land surface conditions, dynamical model forecast guidance, statistical-based tools as well as long-term positive temperature trends in most areas supported the outlook,” the experts said on the website in early June.
Their more recent June forecast was much the same for these regions.
Much of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, from Maine in the north to Virginia in the south, also should be warmer than average.
And the heat band of higher temperatures also stretches on a westward diagonal from the Great Lakes in the north and south to Texas and New Mexico.
Don’t look for above average rain to curb high temperatures.
There are equal chances for southern New York, including Long Island, to receive more rain than usual, the usual amount, and less than usual, the forecasters said.
“This forecast is driven by potential influences from current sub-seasonal coherent tropical variability … And any subsequent tropical disturbances and moisture as well as the majority of the dynamical model guidance” from several programs, the center said.
A slim band of states stretching west to Washington and California and a narrow strip pointing south and including eastern Texas share this prediction.
WHAT’S NORMAL, WHAT’S NOT
The mean temperature in July recorded in Islip since 1963 is 73.9 — about five degrees above the previous month, according to the National Weather Service.
The warmest June was 78.6 in 1999; the coldest was 69.8 degrees in 1978.
On the warmest day in July — in 1966 — the temperature hit 104 degrees. The record low — 44 degrees — was in 1965.
14 hours, 21 minutes of daylight by month's end, with sunrise at 4:48 a.m. and sunset at 7:09 p.m.
The normal amount of rain is 3.43 inches, less than June’s 4.27 inches. The wettest June was in 1984, with 8.36 inches of rain, the weather service said. The driest was in 1966, when there was 0.59th of an inch.
Anyone who believes furnace-like blasts are only welcome during the bitterest of winters will be glad the heat wave seen on July 3, 1966, has not been surpassed — at least not yet.
During that three-day holiday weekend, Newsday chronicled traffic jams that erupted as countless cars overheated and Long Islanders encountered what it called the worst epidemic of road buckling in memory.
The worst accident attributed to the heat was the derailing of five cars of a 10-car Long Island Rail Road train in Eastport when the track bent. Seven people were slightly injured.
Motorists were forced to drive on crowded shoulders as road crews set up detours. Workers toiled until after 5 a.m. filling holes on the Southern State Parkway to prevent massive tie-ups.
Yet by 8:10 a.m. thousands of motorists were inching along the Meadowbrook and Southern State parkways in a bumper-to-bumper crawl as they were forced to slow to negotiate the temporarily repaired trouble spots, some of which were more than half-a-foot high.
That 1966 heat wave also was notable for enabling a bog fire that burned for a few weeks on the Roosevelt side of Meadowbrook Parkway between Babylon Turnpike and the Southern State Parkway.
It was so hard to put out because it was below ground and there were no visible flames.
“It’s the kind of thing,” explained Nassau County fire marshal Peter Lynch then, “that feeds on leaf mold that has accumulated through the years. Anything can start it — a cigarette thrown by a motorist or a kid playing with matches — but about the only thing that can stop it is a good drenching rain. And we haven’t had one like that in a couple of weeks.”
Jerry Greene, 68, of North Merrick, described the way the smoke — much like smog — can hang in the air for hours.
“I wake up some nights with a choking feeling because of that smoke.”
She added: "You can’t always see it but you can smell it.”