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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

May Brings Longer & Brighter Days

Can you believe tomorrow is the first day of May? Where did April go? When the final statistics are tabulated, this month will go down as a cooler and wetter-than-normal April. Nearly a half-foot of precipitation (5.46") fell at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in April, including a whopping 2.5" the last day of the month. The average temperature was 48.2 degrees, which was 1.1 degrees below normal. Now, what about May?

The average daily temperature for May jumps from 54 degrees on May 1 to 64 degrees by the end of the month. There have been several days on which the mercury topped 90 degrees, the most notable being 97 degrees on May 20, 1996, which came one month after the last snow of the snowiest season on record, and 94 degrees on May 26, 2010, which was a record for the date. The record low for the month is 31 degrees, set on May 10, 1966. The warmest May on record was in 1991 when the mercury averaged 64.4 degrees.

Can it snow in May? Yes. Believe it or not, there have been two days with at least a trace of snow, including May 27, 1961, which is just over three weeks from the start of Summer! There was also a trace of snow on May 9, 1977. May is the second wettest month of the year, on average, behind March. The normal rainfall for the month is 4.03 inches, based on 40 years of record-keeping. The wettest May happened in 1989 when 9.53″ fell, while the wettest single day rainstorm delivered 3.21″ on May 29, 1968.


The amount of daylight continues to grow each day through the end of the month. There are exactly 14 hours of daylight today when the Sun rises at 5:50 and sets at 7:50. However, by the end of the month, there are just about 15 hours of daylight as the Sun comes up at 5:22 and sets at 8:19. Three weeks later, on the Summer Solstice, the Sun sets at 8:30, which is only 11 minutes later than on the last day of May.

According to weather legend, "Those who bathe in May, will soon be under clay. Those who bathe in June, bathe a bit too soon." The Full Flower Moon happens May 14, at 3:16 p.m. EDT. In most areas, flowers are abundant everywhere during this time. Thus, the name of this Moon. Other names include the Full Corn Planting Moon or the Milk Moon. Happy May!


Monday, April 28, 2014

National Walk at Lunch Day This Wednesday

This Wednesday, April 30, is National Walk at Lunch Day. According to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, obesity, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes are threatening the lives of Americans everyday. Inactive lifestyles not only affect physical health, they also can cost families thousands of dollars each year in expenses.

NwldlogoBlue Cross and Blue Shield companies are encouraging their employees and their customers to wear comfortable walking shoes to work and take time during their lunch breaks to start walking toward better health. National Walk at Lunch Day is designed to fit into daily schedules. Obviously, if you are unable to walk during your lunch break, take some time during the day to go for a walk. You'll feel much better.

During the inaugural National Walk at Lunch Day, tens of thousands of employees, customers, and community leaders in 46 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico included a half-hour into their workdays to go for a walk.

Bloke_walkinghappyI've already touted the many benefits of walking in earlier blog entries. Today, I don't watch television, but I do walk. In fact, as soon as I get home from work, I lace up my sneaks and, weather permitting, try to walk at least two miles before I pick up my sons from school. After dinner, my son laces up his roller blades and joins me as I add at least another half-mile. Some days, I'll be gone for two hours. If it weren't for daily chores, I probably could go on virtually forever.

Before you start your walking program, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports recommends following a few basic principles that will help keep you safe and comfortable:
  • If you have a health condition or have not done any regular physical activity for a long time (men over 40, women over 50), talk with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
  • Choose comfortable, supportive shoes, such as running, walking, or cross training shoes, or light hiking boots.
  • If you're going for a longer walk, warm up with stretching exercises, and include a cool-down period to reduce stress on your heart and muscles.
  • Maintain a brisk pace. You should work hard to keep up your pace but still be able to talk while walking.
  • Practice correct posture — head upright, arms bent at the elbow and swinging as you stride.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after walking to cool working muscles and keep your body hydrated.
ChildwalkThe goal should be to try an add 10,000 steps each day. Exercise doesn't have to be a rigid, time-consuming activity. In fact, it shouldn't be thought of in terms of one activity. Walking your dog, walking with your child to the park, walking to and from the parking lot, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator can be a part of an exercise routine that adds up to an additional 10,000 steps daily.

The challenge is to think creatively about ways you might add "steps" to your day. Here are just a few ideas:
  • Take the stairs as often as possible
  • Park several blocks from your destination or park at the rear of the parking lot
  • Walk the last few blocks instead of riding the bus all the way to work
  • Get off the elevator below your destination and walk a couple of flights of stairs
  • Park at the opposite end of the mall from where you need to shop
  • Walk to do shopping or other errands
Consider adding other walking routines to your day by organizing a lunchtime walking group at work, or a before-or after-work group with friends or neighbors. Instead of watching television after dinner, get the whole family outside for a game of tag, frisbee or a walk around the block. Try not to get stuck in the "all or nothing" rut  — even if you don't have time for a long walk, you might be able to squeeze in a short one, or at least take the stairs.

Today is a perfect day to go for a walk. It will be mostly sunny and seasonably mild with a high temperature in the low-to-mid 60s. Tonight will become mostly cloudy with lows in the 40s. Some showers will develop tomorrow afternoon before a steadier and heavier rain arrives late Wednesday, hopefully after your lunchtime walk. Start a new tradition. You'll feel much better.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Brush Fire in Orange Burns About 15 Acres After Red Flag Warning Was Issued

A Red Flag Warning was issued for Connecticut yesterday due to gusty winds and low humidity levels. The threat of brush fires was heightened during the day as winds gusted over 30 to 40 miles an hour. The warning was much-needed, and brush fires were reported in Connecticut and New Jersey.

Firefighters are still on the scene this morning after a brush fire burned about 15 acres in Orange Thursday. Officials say a mulch pile caught fire around 4 o'clock Thursday afternoon. The flames burned near Edison Road. Firefighters say it was hard to get water to the fire because the closest hydrant was 3,000 feet away.

According to officials, it’s not uncommon for brush fires to break out at landscaping businesses. The crews are on the scene today to prevent any more breakouts. The fire serves as a reminder to take all weather-related warnings, watches, and advisories seriously.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Record Daily Rainfall Happened Eight Years Ago Today

April weather can certainly be damp and cool across southwestern Connecticut, but what happened eight years ago today was unforgettable and record-setting. We were deluged with rain Sunday, April 23, 2006, and it caused flooded basements, closed roads, forced evacuations, and claimed two lives locally. In fact, nearly a half-foot of rain fell at Sikorsky Memorial Airport, making it the highest single-day rainfall total on record.

Unfortunately, the rain continued to hammer southwestern Connecticut all day long, while the Sun was shining at Yankee Stadium during the baseball game between New York and Baltimore in the Bronx. That was probably the most frustrating aspect, just waiting for the rain to stop. The rain was moving from South-to-North instead of West-to-East.

There's no question the 6.39" of rain which fell in Fairfield eight years ago today is the most ever in one-day in my lifetime. I can't ever recall that much rain in a 24-hour period. The previous October was record-setting due to the foot-and-a-half of rain which fell during the month, but it was spread out over a prolonged period of time. This time, nearly two months worth of rain fell in 24 hours.

Firefighters evacuated more than 30 people, including infants, with an inflatable boat as more than five feet of water flooded streets between Halley Avenue and Mountain Grove Cemetery in Fairfield that day. Fire Chief Richard Felner, a good friend of mine, said that nobody was injured in the worst flooding to hit Fairfield in at least a decade.

Around town, most of the people with whom I spoke had their own tales to tell. Most of the people who live along the Rooster River said it was the worst flooding in their neighborhood in more than 25 years. According to The Connecticut Post, Toni Bodor of Fairfield said what many of us felt. "It just kept going. Before we knew it, it was right to the top of the wheels of my car. It happened so suddenly. I kept checking out one window, the front and back, before I realized I couldn't move my car."

The magnitude of the flooding in Fairfield hit me with news of the death of a town resident. According to our morning newscast, seventy-one year old Elsbeth Schubiger lived with her husband on Bradford Street, just feet from the Rooster River. Investigators found her body lodged between a tree and a retaining wall the following morning.

Police say Schubiger was cleaning up debris along the swollen river when she apparently slipped, lost her balance, and fell into the fast-moving waters. Her death is a tragic reminder of nature's wrath, even in one's own backyard.

As for neighboring Bridgeport, the city established a single-day record of 5.3" which caused 13 people to be evacuated from an apartment building where up to four-feet of water built up in front of the three-story structure. Firefighters were able to remove six residents by boat, while the seven remaining residents were escorted to safety 45 minutes later.

Westport received nearly a half-foot of rain (5.37"), and the heavy rains contributed to the death of a Shelton child early Sunday morning. The youngster, who celebrated her first birthday the previous Tuesday, died when the car in which she was riding, slid out of control on the Merritt Parkway in Westport.

Rainfall totals from across southwestern Connecticut were impressive, to say the least. Other communities with at least four inches of rain included Milford (5.46"), New Canaan (5.17"), Norwalk (4.87"), Woodbridge (4.79"), and Southport (4.31"). Consider that the normal rainfall for the entire month of April is 3.99" based on 40 years of averages.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Celebrate Earth Day

Today is Earth Day, which was first observed 44 years ago on the same date in 1970. There's no question we've become better stewards of our planet over the last four decades. Earth Day founder Senator Gaylord Nelson passed away in July of 2005 at the age of 89. He believed strongly that education is the key to changing people’s attitudes about the environment, and he devoted much of his time and energy to that challenge.

“The idea of Earth Day evolved over a period of seven years starting in 1962,” he wrote before his death. “For several years it had been troubling me that the state of our environment was simply a non-issue in the politics of the country. Finally, in November of 1962, an idea occurred to me that was, I thought, a virtual cinch to put the environment into the political ‘limelight’ once and for all. The idea was to persuade President Kennedy to give visibility to this issue. It was the germ of the idea that ultimately flowered into Earth Day.”

According to Senator Nelson, the first Earth Day “worked” because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. Though he felt he and his committee had neither the time nor resources to organize the 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated, “it organized itself.”

So, how have things changed in the last 44 years? Certainly, we’ve become more aware of the need to take better care of our planet. Many imporant laws were passed in the wake of the first Earth Day, including the Clean Air Act, and laws to protect water, wild lands, and the ocean. The Environmental Protection Agency was created within three years of the first Earth Day.

Personally, I’ve seen a dramatic change over the last 44 years. What I clearly remember as a child is taking a weekly pilgrimage with my Dad every Saturday afternoon to the town dump. Dad loaded the family car with all kinds of debris and junk from the basement, and we followed the dirt path, greeted the seagulls, and dumped everything at the landfill. The garbage was simply buried. Today, our garbage is turned into electricity or, in some cases, steam.

Garbage isn’t something most of us want to think about, but managing nearly 230 tons we generate each year has consequences. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of garbage Americans generate has increased from 88 million tons to over 229 million tons since 1960. Forty-seven years ago, Americans produced about 2.7 pounds of garbage each day. By 2001, though, that amount jumped to 4.4 pounds a person each day.

I’m impressed at what has been done locally to address the issue of waste reduction. The Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority’s Bridgeport Project consists of a 2,250 ton-per-day mass-burn trash-to-energy facility, eight transfer stations, two landfills, a regional recycling center, and the Children’s Garbage Museum. The Bridgeport Project provides solid waste disposal and recycling services to 20 Connecticut communities in Fairfield and New Haven counties.

The Bridgeport Project trash-to-energy plant, which is located at 6 Howard Avenue in Bridgeport is truly an impressive facility. Take your family there, and I’m sure all of you will be amazed at what you see. It’s the perfect example of how “one man’s trash becomes another man’s treasure.” I’ve visited the plant several times, and each time I come away with a better understanding of how we manage our trash.

The solid waste is burned in a controlled environment to create electricity. Through this process, the volume of solid waste is reduced by about 90%. Waste-to-energy plants nationwide generate enough electricity to power nearly 2.3 million homes. Energy created in the Bridgeport facility has about the same environmental impact as energy produced from natural gas, and less impact than from oil or coal plants.

Recycling? We never bothered to recycle anything over a generation ago. Everything was considered “trash” back then. Now, we carefully sort our recyclables each week and place them in the blue bins. Recycled items include paper, aluminum, steel, plastics, glass, scrap tips, cell phones, and electronics. Americans recycled and composted nearly 30% of municipal solid waste in 2001, diverting 68 million tons to recovery.

Did you know, for example, that 71% of all newspapers are recovered for recycling? Over a third goes back into making more newsprint. The remainder is used to make paperboard, tissue, and insulation. Seventy-four percent of boxes are recycled, and nearly 46% of office papers are recovered for recycling. These become raw material for printing and writing paper.

So, yes, we’ve come a long way since the first Earth Day was “celebrated” on April 22, 1970. Much has been done since then, but there’s still a long way to go. Gaylord Nelson said education was the key to changing people’s attitudes about the environment, and the more aware we become about our planet, the better we'll be able to take care of it.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Fishing Season Opens Tomorrow

Opening Day of the new fishing season is Saturday, and it looks like our weather will cooperate. Skies will be mostly sunny with daytime high temperatures in the upper 50s to close to 60 degrees, which is just about normal for this time of the year. Easter Sunday will be beautiful under sunny skies and a high temperature in the upper 50s.

Anglers young and old alike are looking forward to tomorrow. Fishing is great family fun and a healthy outdoor activity enjoyed by everyone. The Department of Environmental Protection stocks many lakes and streams with a wide variety of fish species throughout the year. Some of the other programs developed by DEP to enhance fishing opportunities include fishing education for children and families and the creation of special fishing areas such as trout parks.

One of my neighbors told me that there's nothing quite like getting up in the middle of the night and heading to the nearest river or stream on Opening Day. He always looks forward to the first day of fishing season. He told me that he packs his breakfast and lunch and leaves the house well before sunrise. He admitted that he enjoys the peace and quiet of being out on the water so early in the morning. I'm sure his sentiments are shared by many others, too.

Connecticut is fortunate to have over 180 public lakes and ponds and thousands of miles of rivers and streams teeming with a variety of gamefish and panfish. Anglers from all over the country come to Connecticut to fish for prized trout in the Farmington and Housatonic Rivers. Eleven water bodies in Connecticut have been designated as Trout Parks. Trout Parks are located in easily accessible areas to enhance trout fishing opportunities for everyone.

The DEP Web site adds that anglers should consult their 2014 Angler’s Guide for the current fishing regulations that apply to the waters in which they plan to fish. Trout Parks and the many waters designated as Trout Management Areas, Trophy Trout Streams, Sea-Run Trout Streams, and Wild Trout Management Areas each have special regulations.

The 2014 Angler’s Guide is available at all Town Clerks Offices and at tackle stores selling fishing licenses. Anglers can now purchase their fishing licenses online, too. Both the Angler's Guide and the online licensing system can be accessed on the DEP web site at: Good luck to all the anglers this Saturday.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Total Lunar Elcipse Happens the Morning of April 15

The following article is taken from Astronomy Magazine.

We’ll experience the first total lunar eclipse in 28 months the morning of Tuesday, April 15. Observers throughout North and South America will have the prime views of this eclipse. Those in the western Pacific will miss the first half of the eclipse because it occurs before the Moon rises. Likewise, most of Europe and Africa will experience moonset just as the eclipse begins.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and the Moon line up. During such times, the Moon passes through Earth’s shadow, and where it passes determines the type of eclipse we’ll see. Our planet’s shadow has two parts: a darker inner section called the umbra and a lighter outer region called the penumbra. When the Moon passes through only the penumbra, we experience a penumbral eclipse. When only some of it passes through the umbra, we see a partial eclipse. Sometimes, however, all of the Moon passes through the umbra, creating a total lunar eclipse. That’s what’s happening on the 15th.

The event starts at 12:54 a.m. EDT as the Moon enters the penumbra of Earth’s shadow. Most observers won’t even notice any change in our satellite’s appearance for at least a half-hour after this time. Things begin to heat up at 1:58 a.m. EDT. That’s when the Moon first hits Earth’s umbral shadow and the partial phase begins.

For more than an hour you’ll see the dark part grow until totality begins at 3:07 a.m. EDT. Totality lasts 78 minutes, until 4:25 a.m. EDT. The partial phase is over at 5:33 a.m. EDT, and the penumbral phase —and this eclipse — ends at 6:38 a.m. EDT.

The Moon’s appearance during totality can vary greatly from one eclipse to the next. The path the Moon takes through Earth’s umbra — and how centered it is — has an effect. But so does our atmosphere. It can darken the shadow because it contains water droplets and solid particles like dust and ash, which reduce the air’s clarity. Lots of clouds along the edge of our planet also can cut down the light.

But in addition to appearing dark, the Moon takes on a particular color during totality. This occurs because our air bends some of the Sun’s rays into the shadow. It also scatters the shorter (bluer) wavelengths out of that light, reddening it and darkening the Moon’s face.

Next Tuesday morning, the Moon’s northern edge passes a tiny bit south of the shadow’s center. In contrast, its southern edge lies a lot farther from that point. As a result, the Moon’s northern half will look much darker than its southern half because it lies deeper in the umbra.

During totality, the constellations of the Northern Hemisphere’s spring surround the Moon. Mars will dazzle 9.4° northwest of the Moon. On eclipse morning, the Red Planet lies relatively close to Earth and shines at magnitude –1.4, as brightly as it will until 2016. It’s also as large as it will be until then, so if you have a telescope set up for the eclipse, you’ll have plenty of time to steal a glance at Mars, even during totality.

Astronomy Senior Editor and veteran eclipse watcher Richard Talcott notes how safe this event is to watch. “A lunar eclipse poses no danger whatsoever to your eyes,” he says. “All you’re looking at is the Moon passing through a big shadow. Not only do you not need any filters, but you also can feel free to magnify the sight by using binoculars or a telescope.”


Thursday, April 10, 2014

West School's Fourth-Graders Shine as Weekly Weatherkids

The fourth-graders at West School in New Canaan are this week's Weatherkids stars. We went outside to enjoy the brilliant sunshine and mild temperatures. It's one of my favorite annual visits. That's Justin, one of my weather trivia winners, giving the weather forecast on News 12 Connecticut!

West School's Fourth-Grade Weatherkids by PaulWXman


West School's Fourth-Graders Enjoy Weatherkids Sun & Fun

I made my annual trip to West School in New Canaan yesterday. I've been visiting the entire fourth-grade class for the last several years. What makes this visit special is that it's held outside near the school's garden, greenhouse, and weathercenter. We had a lot of fun.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April Snowstorm 18 Years Ago This Evening Capped Snowiest Winter on Record

Seasonal snowfall records were smashed across much of New England when heavy, wet snow buried Northern New England and delivered nearly a foot of snow (11.3″) to Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford from the evening of April 9 through the morning of April 10, 1996. It was a fitting end to the Winter that just didn’t seem to want to end. In fact, the first snowfall of the season happened the previous November.

When the last flake had fallen, 75.8″ of snow had fallen in southwestern Connecticut that Winter, breaking the previous mark of 71.3″ established over 60 years earlier in 1933-34. Hartford finished the 1995-96 Winter with a record 114.6 inches, which eclipsed the previous mark of 84.9 inches only two years earlier. Here’s a look at snowfall records which were established in the Northeast during the 1995-96 season (click to enlarge):


What I most remember about that snowstorm was a telephone call I received from my brother and sister-in-law, who were living in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, at the time. That little town at the base of Mount Monadnock made national headlines when the second major snowstorm in three days produced nearly two feet (21 inches) of snow. My brother and sister-in-law were convinced that they were snowbound for awhile.

We also laughed about how much we were looking forward to seeing the first-ever baseball game at the brand new New Britain Stadium just two days later. The Eastern League’s Rock Cats were unveiling their state-of-the-art ballpark against the rival New Haven Ravens, and we were convinced the game wasn’t going to happen. We had purchased tickets well in advance. However, the game did go on as scheduled, and we enjoyed the festivities, despite temperatures in the lower 30s and snow in the parking lot!

Consider that the normal average snowfall for southwestern Connecticut for the month of April is only 0.9″ based on 40 years of record-keeping, and the normal average Winter snowfall is about 26.3 inches. Comparatively speaking, this past Winter produced nearly four-and-a-half feet of now. It doesn't look like any snow is in our forecast. In fact, today will be mostly sunny, breezy, and pleasant with a high of 58 degrees.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Today Marks 32nd Anniversary of Snowiest April Day on Record

Desmond snow sketch Today marks the 32nd anniversary of the snowiest April day on record in southwestern Connecticut. Take a look out the window today, and it's hard to imagine that exactly a half-foot of snow fell on April 6, 1982. What made the storm even more memorable were the gusty winds and cold temperatures. Record lows of 19, 18, and 23 degrees were established from April 6 through April 8, 1982, respectively, well below the 38-degree normal low temperature for this time of the year.

The snowstorm of Tuesday, April 6,1982, was one of the most remarkable late season snowfalls to strike the Northeast. Snowfall accumulations from 10 inches to over a foot occurred over much of Long Island, but the accompanying very cold temperatures and high winds caused extensive blowing and drifting of snow which was unprecedented for early April. Take a look at the following photo from New York City during the height of the storm.


More than a foot of snow (13") fell at Newark, New Jersey, 10 inches (9.8") blanketed New York City, and over two feet of snow was measured in upstate New York. The primary storm resurfaced off the New Jersey coast, producing gale force winds of up to 60 miles an hour. It was the heaviest April snow in New York City since April 3 and 4 of 1915 when 10 inches fell.

The heavy snow forced the cancellation of the Yankees’ 1982 home opener against the Rangers at Yankee Stadium. Even worse, the weather stayed cold, and the Yanks cancelled another game against Texas, two games against the White Sox, and they eventually opened on Easter Sunday, April 11, 1982, by dropping both ends of a doubleheader to Chicago.

While the storm of 32 years ago had a mid-Winter look and feel, today will be much quieter across southwestern Connecticut. It will be sunny, breezy, and pleasant with a high temperature well into the 50s. What a far cry from this date in 1982.