That Was a Parched April

There were only five days last month with rain

    Spring on eastern Long Island “has been changing slowly during the last 75 years,” Richard G. Hendrickson, the United States Cooperative weather observer in Bridgehampton, wrote in his monthly report for April.
    In the springs of his youth, when his family had milk cows and chickens, hatching 1,500 baby chicks a week, he recalls once having to shovel the door free of snow so he could tend to the coal stove keeping 350 baby chicks warm and toasty.
    “We had to keep more than an eye on the weather every day and night,” he wrote.
    Mr. Hendrickson, who has been observing the weather for over 75 years, said that the last 50 or so winters have been less severe than earlier ones. “Our cattle pasture hill used to be covered with kids and their sleds. . . . For how many years will these remain snow-free hills and the ponds remain ice-free as they have this winter?”
    “We are in a period of milder winters and warmer summers, plus I believe, periods of greater precipitation,” he wrote. “The ocean and all bay harbors have a slightly higher water level, and that means in time of storm, they creep farther landward, over all that is in their way.”
    The warmest days last month were April 16 and 17, when it was 77 degrees. Most daytime temperatures were in the 50s, with a few in the 60s. The thermometer dropped to 29 on April 3 and 6.
    Rainfall will be most important this month, as “nothing, plant or animal, grows without water,” Mr. Hendrickson said. There were only five days last month with rain. The heaviest, 1.25 inches, came on April 22, and the total for the month was just 1.38 inches, well off the long-term average for April of about 4 inches.
    In Bridgehampton, Mr. Hendrickson did not record any fog. He noted 15 clear, 3 partly cloudy, and 12 cloudy days last month, and winds from the northwest on 14 days. In most Aprils, winds are from the east, he said.
    As temperatures rise, Mr. Hendrickson wrote, “we need also greater amounts of rainfall . . . because our long-term high temperatures will be slightly higher, and moisture evaporation will be on the increase with our sandy soil.”
    For May, Mr. Hendrickson predicts “higher temperatures, increased rainfall, and occasional fog.”