As a lifetime Broad Channel resident, decades-long, hands-on advocate for Jamaica Bay and retired New York City firefighter, Dan Mundy Sr. has a practiced eye for evaluating New York City weather.
And he offers a simple explanation for why Queens residents still are bundled up in winter coats and hooded sweatshirts with May 1 arriving at week’s end.
“April was March,” Mundy explained in a telephone conversation on Tuesday.
With few exceptions, April showers seem to have brought only more showers, overcast skies and unseasonably cool temperatures.
“And don’t forget the wind,” Mundy said.
Like any meteorologist, Jim Connolly of the U.S. Weather Service in Upton, LI, never forgets the wind. In an interview last week, he offered the scientific explanation.
“April has seen a below-normal [temperature] pattern,” Connolly said. “You have a low-pressure system over the ocean, and cooler air coming down from Canada.”
He said the combination causes clouds, and, while that is not uncommon for April, the pattern “has been somewhat repetitive.”
He also said storms coming up the Atlantic coast lend themselves to rain and cloud cover.
Steve Brill also has noticed the difference, though he says it is not new. Brill, nicknamed “Wildman,” has led tours through New York City since 1982 teaching people where to find and how to identify edible native plants that grow in abundance.
“Although I’m not leading too many tours right now for some reason,” the Queens native joked, referring to the current statewide shutdown due to COVID-19. Brill said it is a tangible sign of climate change.
“The weather is different since I started leading tours in 1982,” he said. “Since 1994, when I wrote my first book, I stopped saying what month certain plants came in. Now I say ‘late spring/early summer,’ or ‘late summer/early fall.’ When I was a kid you had snow after Thanksgiving. This winter we had no snow at all.”
He says Queens still remains a favorite spot of his for arranging tours, with numerous places to find wild-growing food.
“Queens has no deer,” he said. “That’s often overlooked.”
Mundy said there are activities conducted by Jamaica Bay Eco-Watchers that have not been disrupted by either the weather or the lockdown. He said, for example, that the group, which includes his son, Dan Jr., still tests water samples and takes water temperatures on the bay regularly.
“That’s just going to our backyard; we don’t have to worry about the pause to do that,” he said. There also are necessary projects with the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Parks Service and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
“For every project we do, there’s another that starts before we’re finished,” he said. “If you’re rebuilding a wetland, that can take five to 10 years. So you’re making phone calls to see where projects are. Are they funded? Whose desk are they on? Because if you don’t, they can be put on the side and wind up at the bottom of the pile.”
The National Weather Service forecast calls for more of the same Thursday and Friday, with rain possible even Saturday before the sky is predicted to clear in the afternoon. The Weather Channel’s website is predicting rising temperatures but skies being at best partly cloudy through May 12.