I’m no Al Gore, but here’s an Inconvenient Truth…

New York City from the Central Park Reservoir; photo by Seamus Kirst.

Weather in New York isn’t so bad. Yes, we all suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder for half the year, but that’s nothing that anti-depressants can’t cure, and everyone who’s anyone is already on those anyways. Other cities have real problems to deal with. Living in Los Angeles is only glamorous if you enjoy taking selfies with Kim Kardashian amidst sudden earthquakes, wildfires, floods and mudslides – and no, I’m not talking about the kind made with Kahlua. Everyone in the Rain City, aka Seattle, always smells like mildew, and I’m allergic to dust so I would last all of 30 seconds in an Arizona sandstorm. If you’re a witch with ruby slippers I hope you learned from Dorothy to steer clear of Kansas’ tornadoes.


So yeah, having SAD sucks, but any New Yorker will tell you how much they love having “all of the seasons”. And while I enjoy the blooming tulips of spring and the crimson leaves of fall as much as my next faux-nature enthusiast, I come bearing an inconvenient truth that I was going to wait until the day after tomorrow to share, but I’ve never been much one for keeping secrets: New York’s weather is on a batshit rollercoaster.


Bad news. If you felt as if you were especially cold this past winter, it doesn’t mean you were skinnier than normal. On the bright side it also doesn’t mean that you’re a huge crybaby; you were right. The Northeast was 7.2°F colder than normal in March, according to statistics provided by a climatologist from the Cornell University’s Northeast Regional Climate Center. I don’t think I stand alone in hating frostbite, high heat bills and hypothermia, but don’t despair; the same climatologist told me cold waves are expected to become less intense, less frequent, and of shorter duration.


Don’t tell Al Gore or Bill Nye the Science Guy I said so, but one upside of global warming is that the winters will be less cold! The climate center’s statistics also show the Northeast has warmed by almost 2°F from 1895 to 2011. I love a nice beach day, but on second thought maybe this isn’t such good news. The frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves are expected to increase, as are the number of days per year above 90°F, said the climatologist. So buy yourself an extra stick of deodorant and get ready for the volatile show. If temperatures continue to rise the ice caps will melt, water levels will rise, polar bears will drown and Montauk will become the new Atlantis – as in the Lost City, not the resort with an aquarium waterslide across from Señor Frog.


If you enjoy singin’ in the rain, then you’re in luck. New York should be renamed New-New Delhi because monsoons are coming this way. According to the National Climate Assessment, “The Northeast has experienced a greater recent increase in extreme precipitation than any other region in the United States; between 1958 and 2010, the Northeast saw more than a 70% increase in the amount of precipitation falling in very heavy events.” If you’ve been chanting “Rain, Rain Go Away” all summer, don’t hold your breath. This is no temporary phenomenon, as the climatologist told me that the extreme precipitation trend is expected to continue.


In New York there’s always been baseball season and apple season, but residents of the Empire State should also begin preparing themselves for hurricane season. According to that same National Climate Assessment, “The intensity, frequency, and duration of North Atlantic hurricanes, as well as the frequency of the strongest hurricanes, have all increased since the early 1980s.” Non-arc builders may want to call up Noah and try to reserve a seat, because coastal flooding is expected to increase.


While New Yorkers are used to paying for wardrobes to suit our four seasons, climate change will demand some additions to that list: Waist-high rain boots! A new storm shelter! Lifeboats on your roof!


What the hell, Mother Nature? We’re barely out of the recession.


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