Paul is a full-time fifth-grade teacher at an elementary school in Fairfield ... Paul is a New York Emmy award winner (2007), five-time Emmy nominee, and four-time winner of the Connecticut Associated Press Broadcasters' Association award for 'Best Weathercast' in Connecticut (2006, 2008, 2009, 2012) ... The local weather journal is a two-time winner of the Communicator Award of Distinction (2012 & 2013) ... Paul was inducted into the Housatonic Community College Hall of Fame and received the Distinguished Alumni Award (2012) ... Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulPiorek ...

Monday, March 31, 2014

Welcoming April With Some Degree of Trepidation

March is "going out like a lion" with snow, cold, and windy conditions this morning. However, the weather will gradually improve this afternoon as high pressure builds into the Northeast. The Mets and World Series champion Red Sox will play their season-openers today. If you're planning to attend the Mets' game at Citi Field, make sure you bundle up. High temperatures will be in the upper 40s along with a gusty wind.

I welcome April with some degree of trepidation. Three of the last eight years there have been flooding rains across southwestern Connecticut during April. Seven years ago, on Sunday, April 15, 2007, over three inches (3.02″) of rain fell in one day at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, causing widespread catastrophic flooding throughout the region. Unofficially, well over a half-foot of rain soaked many communities throughout the area. The rain didn’t let up until the following day, bringing the two-day total to 3.51 inches.

The previous year, on Sunday, April 23, 2006, 5.30″ of rain fell at the airport, highlighting a three-day stretch which saw nearly a half-foot (5.79″) of rain. That capped a stretch of nearly eight inches of rain (7.98″) in a 24-day period. The ground was already saturated prior to the deluge, since six of the first eight days of the month saw measured rain, producing nearly two inches (1.93″) in just over one week.

Based on the last 40 years, the average rainfall for April is 3.99 inches, ranking it third behind March (4.15″) and May (4.03″) as the wettest months of the year. The wettest April on record happened in 1983 when 10.72″ was recorded at Sikorsky Memorial Airport. The driest occurred just two years later when only 0.69″ fell in 1985. The most memorable single-day rain events other than April 23, 2007, happened on April 21 of 2000 (3.34″), April 10, 1983 (3.15″), and April 13, 2004 (3.08″).


April is certainly a month of extremes in southwestern Connecticut as temperatures have ranged from a high of 91 degrees on April 28, 1991, to a low of 18 degrees on April 7, 1982. The warmest April on record averaged 56.7 degrees in 1954, while the coldest happened 47 years ago when the average temperature was 43.4 degrees in 1966. The mean temperature climbs from 45 degrees at the start of the month to 54 degrees by April 30.

Snow is not out of the question for April. In fact, a trace of snow has fallen as late as April 28, while a half-foot fell on April 6, 1982, which was Major League Baseball’s Opening Day and forced the postponement of the Yankees’ home debut in New York. The average snowfall for the month is less than an inch (0.09″). You may remember 18 years ago, though, when seven inches of snow fell April 10, 1996, capping the snowiest Winter on record in southwestern Connecticut when 78″ fell along the coast and over 100″ inland.

The length of daylight continues to grow considerably this month. Tomorrow's sunrise happens at 6:35, and it rises before 6 o’clock (5:51) at the end of the month. More dramatic, though, is the time of sundown. The Sun sets at 7:18 this evening, but it doesn’t drop below the horizon until 7:49 April 30. Daylight is increasing at the rate of two to three minutes per day in April. Daylight grows from 12 hours and 43 minutes at the start of April to almost 14 hours (13:58) by the end of the month.

Happy April!


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Unforgettable Easter Snowstorm Happened 44 Years Ago Today

Today marks the 44th anniversary of the unforgettable Easter Sunday snowstorm of 1970. Remember, a snowstorm this late in the season in southwestern Connecticut is extremely rare. The normal high temperature is almost 20 degrees above the freezing point, while the normal low temperature is 35 degrees. In addition, the higher angle of the Sun, its stronger rays, and more than 12 hours of daylight all contribute to a Springtime feel of the air.

That's why the March 29, 1970, snowstorm is so memorable. Adding to its uniqueness was the fact that it happened on Easter Sunday, a day on which many people travel to church services and to see relatives. Below are copies of the front pages from The Bridgeport Telegram and The Bridgeport Post from Monday, March 30, 1970, courtesy of Sarah Greenberg of the Bridgeport Public Library's Historical Collections Department.


Over a half-foot of snow fell in the Greater Bridgeport area and, to make matters worse, the mercury plummeted to 16 degrees the following morning at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford and 14 degrees in Norwalk.


According to The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, eight inches of snow fell in the city. The front page of the Norwalk newspaper (below) from the following morning, March 30, is courtesy of Judy Rivas of the Norwalk Public Library.

"The weatherman pulled a somewhat premature April Fool's Day gag on Norwalkers Sunday and in the bargain, turned the Easter Parade into a trek more fitting for Siberian slopes than West Avenue," the article stated. "The snowfall, which came shortly after the traditional Easter Sunrise Service at Calf Pasture Beach, caught many a midmorning churchgoer unawares."


Although Easter occurred quite early that year, an Easter Sunday snowfall hadn't been recorded in southern Connecticut since 1915, when eight inches of snow fell April 3 and 4. The 1970 snowstorm began at about 8:30 a.m. and persisted throughout the day until early evening, accompanied by wind gusts up to 30 miles an hour. Remember, the date on which Easter falls fluctuates each year. It is observed on the first Sunday following the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox.

"The state highway department began plowing roads Sunday, though reports indicated much of its snow-fighting equipment was stored away to begin Spring cleanup of sand and road trash instead of snow," according to The Hour. "State police, in a statewide survey of conditions, reported most roads were snow or ice-covered, with extremely slippery conditions."

The following day, Monday, March 30, was an unscheduled holiday for many area schoolchildren due to the snow, wind, and brutally cold temperatures. Only New Canaan and Darien opened their schools, "as most towns, faced with slippery roads and unplowed school yards, cancelled classes."

Although I was only 11 years old and in sixth-grade at the time, the memory of that snowstorm is as vivid today as it was 44 years ago. As a young child, I was excited that we didn't have to go to church or drive to grandma's house for dinner. Instead, our family spent the day at home, enjoying the snow and the holiday together. Oddly, four years later, 7.6" of snow fell at Sikorsky Airport on the same date.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Roger Ludlowe Middle School's Sixth-Graders Star as Weekly Weatherkids

I visited with Cindy Fryman's sixth-grade Science class at Roger Ludlowe Middle School in Fairfield, Wednesday morning, March 26, 2014. It's one of my favorite schools to visit.

Roger Ludlowe Middle School's Sixth-Grade... by PaulWXman


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Osprey's Return Signals Start of Spring to Local Photographer

By Patrick Clancy.

I’m an avid amateur photographer and have sent you several photos of sunrises I have taken in the past. Last night, when I headed down to Calf Pasture Beach to get ready for the sunset (as I do every night ), I looked up at the osprey nest. The osprey is my favorite bird. It's amazing how far they migrate and always return to the same nest. They are just fascinating, and I use the osprey's return to signify that Spring has sprung!

Yesterday, to my surprise, the osprey had returned. I couldn’t wait to park the car and grab my camera and go over and take some pictures. I have to say I was in for a special treat. I took some awesome photos of the osprey gathering twigs and a very large branch which was three-to-four feet long, and fly back up to its nest to start rebuilding it.

At one point, the osprey was at head-level and flying right towards me and swooped down and scooped up a twig no more than 50 feet away from me. At another time, he/she flew about 20 feet right above my head as to say hello. It was really an amazing experience.

So, Paul, according to Pat Clancy's osprey calendar, Spring officially arrived 03/24/14. Enjoy the photos. It was a really amazing afternoon, and the sunset was pretty colorful as well.

Patrick Clancy

Friday, March 21, 2014

St. Mary School's Fourth-Graders Enjoy Weatherkids Program

The fourth-graders at St. Mary School in Milford enjoyed my visit this week. They had fun with the experiments, trivia, and watching a few of their classmates give the weather forecast on television. What a great group of children.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Vernal Equinox Doesn't Signal End of Winter Weather

Today is the first day of Spring. The Vernal Equinox happens at 12:57 p.m. EDT, meaning the Sun's rays are directly above the Equator. Theoretically, there are 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness over any spot on the face of the Earth. We'll enjoy a milder day with a high temperature in the lower 50s. However, the Equinox doesn't necessarily mean an end to Winter weather.

In fact, 58 years ago today a snowstorm dumped just about a half-foot of snow on Bridgeport. Take a look at the front-page of The Bridgeport Post from the following day. According to the article, "Winter rallied its retiring forces yesterday and today and struck at the Bridgeport area with a wind-driven snowstorm. Towns along the Merritt Parkway reported 10 to 12 inches and Danbury had 16." Click on the image to see a larger version.

Although the normal monthly snowfall for March (4.3") is less than a half-foot, nearly a foot of snow fell on two separate occasions. Just over 11 inches of snow fell on March 22, 1967 (see the front page of The Bridgeport Post below), and the unforgettable Storm of the Century, Saturday, March 13, 1993, produced 10.6" at Bridgeport. More than a half-foot of snow (7.6") fell as late as March 29, 1974.

In addition, temperatures can vary significantly through the end of the month. Record low temperatures fell into the single digits March 18 (nine degrees) and March 19 (four degrees), 1967, and a record low of 16 degrees happened as late as March 29, 1970. In fact, much colder air will arrive by the start of next week with daytime high temperatures only in the middle 30s, a far cry from the 50-degree normal high for this time of the year.

April has also seen its fair share of snow, too. You may recall that over a half-foot of snow fell Wednesday, April 10, 1996, capping the snowiest Winter on record at Sikorsky Memorial Airport. Also, a half-foot of snow fell April 6, 1982, which postponed Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. A half-inch of snow fell as late as April 19, 1983, and a trace of snow fell as late as April 28, 1966. The normal snowfall for the entire month, however, is less than an inch (0.9").

April can be quite chilly, too. Record low temperatures of 19 and 18 degrees were recorded April 6 and 7, during the 1982 snowstorm. Even though the average high temperature climbs to 60 degrees by the end of the month, the mercury has fallen into the 20s and 30s quite frequently in mid-to-late April. A record low of 29 degrees happened on April 22, 1975.

Happy Spring!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spring Arrives This Thursday

Tomorrow is the last full day of Winter. However, Old Man Winter has no intentions of packing his bags and leaving just yet. Although today will be mostly sunny, it will be cooler-than-normal once again with afternoon high temperatures in the upper 30s. Spring officially arrives in the Northern Hemisphere this Thursday, March 20, at 12:57 p.m. EDT. That's when the direct rays of the Sun pass over the Equator, technically creating "equal day and equal night" over the face of the Earth.

I've always observed the change of seasons with more reverence and awe than New Year's Eve. After all, the beginning of a new year is an arbitrary date which can actually be recognized just about any time during the year. However, an equinox or a solstice is a much more meaningful "event" and can be explained astronomically. The time is exact and changes every year although, for the most part, the date doesn't vary much.


The change of seasons is due to the 23.4 degree tilt of the Earth's axis. Because of the tilt, we receive the Sun's rays most directly in the Summer. In the Winter, when we are tilted away from the Sun, the rays pass through the atmosphere at a greater slant, bringing lower temperatures. If the Earth rotated on an axis perpendicular to the plane of the Earth's orbit around the Sun, there would be no variation in day lengths or temperatures throughout the year, and we would not have seasons.

Now that Winter is just about in our rear-view mirror, how did we fare as far as snow is concerned? Officially, more than four-and-a-half feet (56.3") of snow fell this season at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford. That's more than double the 25.2" normal, but slightly below last year's total (61.3") through March 17. This season's snowfall approached the 62.6" total from three years ago.


Fair weather is expected through early tomorrow afternoon before rain arrives late in the day through tomorrow night. No major storms are expected over the course of the next seven days. In fact, daytime high temperatures will climb to near 50 degrees for the first day of Spring. However, much colder air is expected by the start of next week.

Happy Spring!


Monday, March 17, 2014

Snow & Ice Storm Struck Region Seven Years Ago Today

St_patricks_day_pinA storm system is expected to stay to the South of the region this morning, but St. Patrick's Day will be mostly cloudy, blustery, and cold with daytime high temperatures in the low-to-mid 30s. There may be a few flurries early this morning. If you're heading to the parade today, make sure to bundle up. However, it won't be anything like what we experienced seven years ago.

I had one of the most difficult drives to work in my many years of providing morning weather to our viewers, Saturday, March 17, 2007. My car was a block of ice. My kitchen door froze after I shut it, locking me out of my own house while I attempted to get into the car. The battle with the car door to get it open took me about 10 minutes. And, I had to wake my son out of a sound sleep to accompany me on my harrowing drive to work.

The drive was, without question, extremely difficult. The roads were covered with ice and snow, and snow plows created some embankments at intersections, making it difficult to drive through the mounds of snow and ice. I got stuck twice in "cakes" of snow and ice. Our morning news anchor told me he "did a 360" on the turnpike, and he was obviously unnerved before we went on the air.

According to Lieutenant Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police who appeared on our morning newscast that day, "Troopers have responded to over 477 accidents. We've been non-stop, busy, constantly during this whole storm. There are really treacherous conditions out there," emphasized Vance. "Many motorists have been stuck."


The storm began on Friday, March 16, 2007, with a moderate snow blanketing the region. The numbers were very impressive for mid March. Easton (6.5 inches), Fairfield (6.4"), New Canaan (6.0"), and Darien (6.0") each received at least a half-foot of snow unofficially. Even Bridgeport (5.0") had substantial snow. The average monthly snow for March is 4.3 inches based on 40 years of climatology. One of our viewers sent this photo from Norwalk.


"It was a tough storm," admitted John Kerry of the Department of Transportation storm center. "We're telling people that if they can hold off on their travel they will probably be in a lot better shape. We are seeing spin outs because the roads are slippery." One snow plow driver was asked by News 12 Connecticut's Kristi Olds if this was the worst storm of the Winter. "This one was," he answered immediately. "This one was by far the toughest. All the snow, the ice, and wind. It was tough!"

Nora Massella of Milford, who is a devoted viewer to our morning newscasts, sent this photo of her home and neighborhood. Nora wrote, "Paul, my husband, Mike, tried to get out and it was impossible. When he put down onto the snow, it was thick, thick ice. In order to get rid of this ice, you have to chop it and crack it in order to get rid of it. Our cars are frozen closed."


The Vernal Equinox is just three days away, but Winter is refusing to let go. Spring officially arrives this Thursday, March 20, at 12:57 p.m. EDT. I can't wait!


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Full Worm Moon Happens Today

The Full Moon happens this afternoon at 1:08 EDT. This month's Full Moon is known as the Full Worm Moon. However, the March Full Moon has also been called the Crow Moon, Crust Moon, Sap Moon, and Lenten Moon. Unfortunately, another storm system is bringing up to a half-foot of snow to the region, so we won't see the Moon when it is completely full.

Full Moon names date back to Native Americans, of what is now the Northern and Eastern United States. The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring Full Moon. Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred. There was some variation in the Moon names, but in general, the same ones were current throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior.

As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, signaling the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon and was considered to be the last full Moon of Winter.

This time of the year, the sunlight is getting stronger, temperatures are slowly rising, and the frozen ground begins to thaw. You can tell the worms have begun to come awake when you find the little curly mounds of dirt on the ground. These mounds, or castings are part of nature's way of preparing the Earth for new growth. Then the flowers and herbs and trees and green grass suddenly burst out and let us know Spring is here.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Jennings School's Second-Grade Weatherkids Stars

I visited with the second-graders at Jennings School in Fairfield, Wednesday morning, March 12. They are the featured Weatherkids stars.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Memorable Day in Local Weather History

Three of the most unforgettable weather events in recent history happened on this date. Two powerful storms and an all-time record high temperature for the season occurred on March 13, highlighting the unpredictability of the weather this time of the year. If you're of a certain age, I'm sure you remember all three weather "events."

As hard as it may seem to believe, the temperature climbed to an incredible 84 degrees at Sikorsky Memorial Airport on March 13, 1990. That established a record high for the date, month, and the Winter season. The normal high temperature for this date is only 45 degrees, and the normal low is a chilly 31. Today's high temperature will only reach the middle 20s with wind chill values in the single digits early. That's quite a difference from 24 years ago.

During March, a battle rages between the Spring and Winter seasons, and that makes predicting the temperatures during this month as difficult as any time during the year. The amount of daylight continues to grow each day, and the Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring, is a week away. But, Old Man Winter has no intentions of packing his bags just yet.

I distinctly remember watching the temperature climb that day due to a strong Westerly wind. The wind direction was extremely important, since the flow didn't come from the cooler waters on Long Island Sound. I was the evening weather anchor at News 12 Connecticut 24 years ago, and our "weather video" showed people flocking to a local beach to soak up the sun and warm temperatures. I'll never forget that day.

Then, just three years later, Saturday, March 13, 1993, the famed Storm of the Century pounded the Eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine. Locally, over a foot of snow fell across southwestern Connecticut, winds gusted over 40 miles an hour, and wind chills hovered at or close to zero throughout the day. It was the second snowiest day on record for March, and it will always be remembered because it affected such a large area.

Very heavy snow accumulated in the south. Birmingham, Alabama, picked up a foot of snow. Snow covered the ground from Mississippi to the Florida Panhandle. The heavy snow spread northward along the East Coast to Maine. On Saturday, March 13, every airport in the Eastern states was closed. Snowfall ranged up to four feet on Mount Mitchell, North Carolina. Atlanta, Georgia, picked up three inches. Chattanooga, Tennessee, received up 21 inches. During the peak of the storm, about 30 percent of the entire country was hit by the rough weather.


Very warm, humid air moved across central Florida and, combined with the energy of the storm, helped spawn the 27 tornadoes. Winds were clocked at 99 mph on an oil platform off the Louisiana coast. Overall the storm took 285 lives, mostly because of tornadoes. The storm became the costliest nontropical storm in Florida's history. States of emergency were declared throughout the eastern portion of the country. The adjacent map shows the total snowfall for the storm.

I was called in for storm coverage that Saturday morning, and we remained on the air for more than 12 hours. Aside from the heavy snow, what I remember most from that day was the rapidly falling barometer. The pressure dropped to 28.35 inches in parts of New England, which is usually only observed in hurricanes. They peak at almost the exact opposite time of the year. By comparison, the normal average barometer reading for southwestern Connecticut is 30.02 inches.


The storm was deepening and intensifying as it moved toward New England, and the howling winds didn't let up. In the wake of the storm, back-to-back record low temperatures of 16 and 12 degrees were established on March 14 and 15, respectively, at Sikorsky Airport.

Then, four years ago, a powerful Nor'easter hammered Connecticut and, specifically, Fairfield County. The damaging wind gusts of 60 to 65 miles an hour, flooding rains, massive power outages, impassable roads, and week-long school closings won't soon be forgotten. We received incredible videos and photos of the widespread destruction across southwestern Connecticut. The following photos were sent by News 12 Connecticut viewers.


Former Governor M. Jodi Rell announced that the storm caused more than $7 million in damage statewide, and she requested a visit from Federal Emergency Management Agency officials to assess the damage. The Connecticut Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security estimated $2.8 million worth of damage in Fairfield County alone. Fairfield County qualified for federal disaster assistance.


Preliminary damage estimates in Norwalk totaled more than $335,000, and damage to private homes was even greater. Damage to public buildings and parks, and the cost of funding police, fire, and city employee overtime reached about $335,065, according to the city's director of finance. The scoreboard at Brien McMahon High School was the single most expensive piece of property destroyed in the storm. It was estimated at $18,000.


Stamford officials estimate private property damage at $3.58 million. Damage to public property was estimated at $262,000, and total overtime for city crews at $143,086. Tens of thousands of people lost power, and three school systems were closed for a week. Heavy rain delivered up to one-half inch per hour during the afternoon of March 13. Here is a sampling of area rainfall totals for that day:
  • New Canaan: 4.34"
  • Easton: 4.33"
  • Wilton: 4.01"
  • Stratford: 3.33"
  • Woodbridge: 3.12"
  • Westport: 2.97"
  • Milford: 2.91"

This is certainly a date which will be remembered for dramatic weather three times over the last quarter century.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Today Marks 126th Anniversary of 'Great White Hurricane'

08fig02I've always maintained that the most difficult months to forecast the weather are March and April. The transition from Winter to Spring can bring just about any kind of weather to the region. Although our weather has been relatively quiet over the last two weeks, another storm will bring rain, wind, and some snow to the region later tomorrow.

Did you know that this week also marks the 126th anniversary of arguably the most famous snowstorm in American history? The famous Blizzard of 1888 has been known as The Great White Hurricane due to the heavy amounts of snow, ferocious winds, and prolonged duration. The storm actually lasted from March 11 through March 14, 1888.

Remarkably, the days leading up to the blizzard were unseasonably mild, with temperatures in the 40s and 50s along the East Coast. The storm initially brought torrential rains to the Northeast, but on March 12th the rain changed to heavy snow, temperatures plunged, and a ferocious wind began. The rest, as they say, is history.

The storm continued for the next 36 hours. Sources vary, but the National Weather Service estimated that fifty inches of snow fell in much of Connecticut and Massachusetts and forty inches covered New York and New Jersey. Winds blew up to 48 miles an hour, creating snowdrifts forty to fifty feet high. Snowdrifts of 10 to 13 feet high and over a mile long were reported in Bridgeport, Connecticut!

The storm paralyzed the East Coast from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine. The photo above shows the depth of the snow in New York City between 5th and 6th Avenues. In fact, much of the telegraph system in New York City was demolished. The telegraph and telephone wires snapped, isolating New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington for days. According to various sources, more than any other event, it was this storm that popularized the practice of burying communication lines instead of placing them above ground. 

In addition, two hundred ships were grounded, and at least one hundred seamen died. Fire stations were immobilized, and property loss from fire alone was estimated at $25 million. Overall, more than 400 deaths were reported. The photo below of the horse-drawn sleigh is courtesy of the Historic National Weather Service Collection. It dramatically illustrates the magnitude of the storm.


The Vernal Equinox is just nine days away, and the battle between Old Man Winter and Mother Nature is just heating up. Winter refuses to lighten its grip, while Spring is eager to take control. That clash has led to many memorable weather events over the years. In fact, one of the worst ice storms in recent memory occurred on March 17, 2007, when it took me almost three hours to get to work. Spring can't some soon enough.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Columbus Magnet School's Second-Graders Star as TV Weatherkids

The second-graders at Columbus Magnet School in Norwalk enjoyed my Weatherkids program this week. The students enjoyed the experiments, trivia, and being on television. It was a lot of fun.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

"Spring Ahead" to Daylight Saving Time This Sunday Morning

The Winter cold continues this morning with temperatures in the single digits inland and teens along the shoreline. The average temperature this month at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford is just 25.7 degrees, which is a whopping ten degrees below normal. However, we'll enjoy milder temperatures early this weekend as daytime highs climb into the middle 40s Saturday afternoon.

Spring officially begins two weeks from today. Don't forget to "Spring ahead" to Daylight Saving Time this Sunday morning at 2 o'clock. Traditionally, the start of Daylight Saving Time was originally set on the first Sunday in April. However, former President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 in August of that year. The Act changed the date for Daylight Saving Time.

Aside from the benefits of brighter evenings and commutes home from work, one of the biggest reasons we change our clocks to Daylight Saving Time is that it saves energy. Energy use and the demand for electricity for lighting our homes is directly connected to when we go to bed and when we get up. Bedtime for most of us is late evening through the year. That's when we turn off the lights and TV.

According to the energy commission, in the average home, 25 percent of all the electricity we use is for lighting and small appliances, such as TVs, VCRs and stereos. A good percentage of energy consumed by lighting and appliances occurs in the evening when families are home. By moving the clock ahead one hour, we can cut the amount of electricity we consume each day.

Studies done in the 1970s by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that we trim the entire country's electricity usage by about one percent each day with Daylight Saving Time. We also use less electricity because we are home fewer hours during the "longer" days of Spring and Summer. That's certainly welcome news for those of us living in southwestern Connecticut. If you're a parent like I am, you probably find yourself telling your children to turn off lights and any electrical devices they are not using.

Most people plan outdoor activities in the extra daylight hours. When we are not at home, we don't turn on the appliances and lights. A poll done by the U.S. Department of Transportation indicated that Americans liked Daylight Saving Time because "there is more light in the evenings (and they) can do more in the evenings."

AlarmSo you may be wondering if there are any drawbacks to the switch. For one, it will be darker in the morning. Next Monday, March 10, the sunrise in southwestern Connecticut will happen at 7:12, which is the time the Sun normally rises in early-to-mid December. Unfortunately, it will stay darker longer in the morning, and many high school students will be waiting for the bus in the dark.

Another negative is that the earlier change to DST puts the United States out of sync with the rest of the world for longer than usual, almost certainly disrupting not just computers but the business and travel schedules of workers and travelers. Most internal clocks in computing devices were programmed for the old daylight-time calendar, which Congress set in 1986. And, don't forget, we lose an hour of much-needed sleep, too.

How do you feel about starting Daylight Saving Time nearly a month earlier? As far as energy savings are concerned, I'm all for it. However, I think it will give many of us a false sense of Spring. I prefer the start of DST on the first Sunday of April, even though the Sun won't set until 6:53 Sunday evening.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Recent History Suggests a Snowy March

Are you a snow-lover? If so, I'm sure you had more than your fill in February. The Nor'easter of February 13 and 14 brought more than a foot of snow to southwestern Connecticut. Nearly three feet (32.1") of snow fell at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford last month, which is more than four times the normal (7.2") for February.

If recent history is any indication, we may not be done with snow just yet. Local climatologist Ralph Fato opened up the weather record book and found that more than three inches of snow fell in March across southwestern Connecticut more than half the time (58%) over the last 65 years.

In fact, we've had more than three inches of snow in March in each of the last odd-numbered years since 1997, with the lone exception being last year (2.54"). The snowiest March during the stretch was in 2005 when more than a foot-and-a-half (18.5") fell. More than nine inches of snow (9.7") blanketed the region in March of 2009.

Take a look at the following graphic Ralph Fato produced which illustrates local March snowfall from 1949 through 2012. Click the image to enlarge.

The normal snowfall for March at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford is 4.3 inches based on more than 40 years of climatology. The month can offer extremes in weather, though, punctuated by a record high temperature of 84 degrees on March 13, 1990, and The Storm of the Century, which delivered nearly a foot of snow three years to the day later.

The snowiest March on record occurred in 1967 when nearly two feet (21.8") fell, while 1956 (19.4") and 2001 (18.6") had more than a foot-and-a-half. More than a foot of snow fell in both 1958 (12.6") and 1993 (13.7"). In case you're wondering, just a trace of snow fell in March of 2012 and 3.2" were recorded in 2011.

We dodged a snowstorm yesterday, and no major storms are in the forecast over the course of the next week. In fact, temperatures will begin to moderate into the lower 30s tomorrow and into the 40s Friday and Saturday. Daylight Saving Time begins this coming Sunday morning, March 9, and the first day of Spring is just over two weeks away. However, recent history teaches us to not put the snow shovels away just yet.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Snowy & Cold February Across Region

If February's weather got you down and made you look forward to Spring, there's a good reason why. It was much snowier and colder than normal. In fact, the average temperature at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford was 3.5 degrees below normal, and nearly three feet of snow fell. Unfortunately, March will start on a cold note, but a major snowstorm will pass to the South of the region Monday.

Thirteen of the first 18 days last month were colder-than-normal, including a stretch of four straight days from February 9th through the 12th when the average daily temperature was at least 10 degrees below normal. Seventeen of the 28 days featured below-normal temperatures. There were 11 days with a maximum temperature of 32 degrees or below and 26 days with a minimum temperature of 32 degrees or below.

The average temperature last month was 28.9 degrees. The highest temperature of 49 degrees occurred February 2 (Groundhog Day) and the lowest temperature of seven degrees happened February 11. February 28 was the coldest day of the month with high and low temperatures of 24 and nine degrees, respectively, making the day 18 degrees colder-than-normal.

February's total snowfall of 32.1" was more than four times greater than the 7.2" normal. There were eight days with measured snow, including four in a row from February 13th through the 16th. A two-day snowstorm on February 13th and 14th dumped over a foot of snow (12.2"), while more than a half-foot of snow fell February 3 (6.7") and February 5 (7.5").

The total liquid precipitation for the month (4.20") was nearly one-and-a-half inches above normal (2.79"). The greatest 24-hour precipitation happened February 5 (1.32"). Overall, there were 11 days with at least a trace of precipitation last month. All of the measured precipitation happened over the first 18 days of the month. There was just a trace of precipitation the last 10 days of February.

March will begin on a cold note with daytime temperatures a good 20 degrees below normal through the middle of the week. However, there aren't any major storms in the immediate future. Some flurries are likely later Thursday into early Friday, but the temperature will slowly rebound later this week and finally reach into the 40s by this weekend.