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 ...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

August Traditionally Hot & Tropical

I'm sure many people won't be too happy to see July end. It's been a typical July weatherwise. In fact, the monthly rain total of 3.46" is just 0.14" above normal. The average temperature of 75.2 degrees is just 0.8 degrees above the norm. You may recall last July was the hottest month ever on record at Sikorsky Memorial Airport with an average daily temperature of 78.5 degrees, which was 4.2 degrees above normal and 0.1 degree above the record of 78.4 degrees set in 1994. There were two heat waves, including a record-setting seven-day heat wave from July 14 through July 20. However, August can be just as hot and oppressive.

You may recall that August of 2010 was much warmer than normal. We experienced a heat wave the last three days of the month, and the average monthly temperature (75.1 degrees) was less than one degree from the record of 76 degrees set in 1955. Eight years ago, we christened August with a heat wave when the first three days established record high temperatures of 95, 96, and 97 degrees, respectively, at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford.

Traditionally, August is the second warmest month of the year with a mean average temperature of 73.1 degrees, just behind July's average of 74 degrees, based on 40 years worth of data. The mercury has actually climbed to 100 degrees twice --- on August 9, 2001, and August 27, 1948. In fact, the daily record highs for the month never dip below 90 degrees. The warmest August on record (1955) featured two of the most potent rainstorms.

However, there are subtle signs that Summer is in decline over the next four weeks. The normal high temperature falls from 82 degrees on August 1 to 78 degrees by the end of the month. The overall mean temperature drops from 75 degrees to 70 by August 31. In fact, the record low temperature on August 29 is 44 degrees!

Daily sunshine continues to dwindle, too. We'll enjoy 14 hours and 21 minutes of daylight at the start of the month. But, by the last day of August, the Sun is out for 13 hours and nine minutes. We lose about an hour and a quarter of daylight over the next 31 days. In fact, sunrise occurs at 6:18 and sets at 7:27 by August 31. Remember, on the first day of Summer, the Sun set at 8:30.

As far as rainfall is concerned, the month averages about 3.75" of precipitation. The wettest August happened in 1952 when 13.29" of rain fell. There have been some drenching rains in August, including 4.66" on August 19, 1991, 4.01" on August 27, 2006, 3.99" on August 11, 2000, 3.92" on August 12, 1955, and 3.69" on August 21, 1952. Remember, we are in the heart of hurricane season, and tropical moisture is always a threat.

Long-time area residents will never forget August of 1955 when two of the most memorable hurricanes --- Connie and Diane --- battered the Northeast. Hurricane Connie soaked New England with torrential rains on August 13, 1955. Just five days later, Tropical Storm Diane followed suit creating massive flooding not seen since the 1930s.

The combination of Connie and Diane yielded rainfall totals close to 25 inches in some areas, resulting in unprecedented flooding. Nearly all of the major rivers in the lower Connecticut Valley exceeded flood stage. Some rivers rose more than 20 feet over their banks. There was tremendous destruction in the Naugatuck River Valley, especially in the city of Ansonia.

Summer officially reaches its halfway point this weekend. Another fairly nice day is ahead, but there is a threat of a shower later this afternoon and this evening with a high temperature in the upper 70s to close to 80 degrees. Unfortunately, it looks like the weekend will begin on a rainy note, as an area of low pressure moves North along a stationary front. Hopefully, we'll be able to salvage the latter half of the weekend. The start of next week promises to be fair and quite warm with daytime highs in the lower 80s. Good-bye, July!


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Devil's Den Nature Preserve Offers the Perfect Summer Getaway

Devil's Den Nature Preserve in Weston encompasses 1,756 acres and is the Nature Conservancy's largest preserve in Connecticut. The Den provides a valuable oasis for species that require interior woodland for successful reproduction. Research has shown that such large unfragmented forest areas are vital to the health of a variety of species. 

Devil's Den also represents a significant portion of the watershed of the West branch of the Saugatuck River, a habitat for many of aquatic species, including several uncommon species of mussel. Devil's Den is also of historical significance. Archaeological evidence indicates human use of the area, mostly for hunting, as long as 5,000 years ago. 

The remains of an up-and-down sawmill below Godfrey Pond testify to the importance of the lumbering that dovetailed with charcoal burning. The production of charcoal was an important commercial activity in the 1800s and marks dozens of sites. The Den was created by the late Katharine Ordway through a series of donations from 1966 through 1968, beginning with an 1,100-acre purchase from the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company.

The Lucius Pond Ordway/Devil's Den Preserve is the Connecticut Chapter's largest continuous preserve and the largest tract of protected land in densely developed Fairfield County. Its patchwork of woodlands, wetlands and rock ledges and a series of north-south ridges and valleys woven with streams and swamps make the Devil's Den ideal for low-impact outdoor activities such as hiking and bird watching. My sons and I enjoyed a seven-mile, two-and-a-half hour hike through the preserve this past Saturday.

Devil's Den is the chapter's most frequently visited preserve, hosting more than 40,000 people per year. It is ideally located to provide an enriching and educational outdoor experience for residents of surrounding towns such as Redding, Easton, Westport and Wilton, along with the nearby metropolitan areas of Bridgeport, Danbury, Norwalk and Stamford. The Den is part of the extended 70-mile Saugatuck Valley Trails System, with contiguous forest and watershed lands.

The preserve's 20-mile trail system winds past dramatic rocky crests, outcroppings, and cliffs forming high ledges partly covered with grasses, mosses, and lichens. The preserve features more than 500 types of trees and wildflowers, including the beautiful pink lady's slipper, cardinal flower, and Indian pipe. Devil's Den is home to red fox, bobcat, coyote, Eastern copperhead, wood duck, ruffed grouse, pileated woodpecker and more than 140 other bird species.

The Den was created by the late Katharine Ordway through a series of donations from 1966 through 1968, beginning with an 1,100-acre purchase from the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company.


Friday, July 25, 2014

A Summer Reality Check

We're off to a beautiful start this morning. Clear skies and light winds allowed the temperature to drop into the 50s in some local communities. A refreshing breeze out of the Northwest is delivering much lower dew points and humidity levels through the start of the weekend. Dare I say it almost looked and felt like early Autumn outside this morning.

Believe it or not, yesterday marked the midway point of Summer vacation for my younger son. How is that possible? It seems like only yesterday we were helping them celebrate the last day of school. That was more than four weeks ago. In less than five short weeks, the students and teachers will be heading back to the classroom once again.

The days are indeed getting "shorter." In fact, we have lost nearly 40 minutes of daylight since the first day of Summer. Sunrise on June 21st happened at 5:19. This morning's Sunrise was at 5:44, 25 minutes later. Sunset is now at 8:17, 13 minutes before the latest Sunset, at 8:30, on the Solstice.

By the end of the month, sunrise occurs at 5:47, while the Sun sets at 8:10. Two weeks later, by mid-August, the shorter days become even more pronounced, with Sunrise and Sunset times at 6:02 and 7:51, respectively. The "shorter" days have to do with the Earth's revolution around the Sun, and the 23.5 degree tilt on its axis. By the end of September, the Autumnal Equinox begins a six-month period of longer nights and shorter days in the Northern Hemisphere.

Need further proof that we're moving through Summer rather quickly? My favorite NFL team, the New England Patriots, opened training camp yesterday in Foxboro, Massachsetts. Their first exhibition game is scheduled for Thursday, August 7, against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. That's less than two weeks away! Before you know it, the regular season will be here.

Make sure you get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather day. It will be picture-perfect under mostly sunny skies and seasonably warm temperatures. Tonight will be mostly clear and comfortable with lows in the low-to-mid 60s. Tomorrow will be partly sunny and pleasant before a warm front arrives early Sunday, bringing a threat of a shower or thunderstorm. Our streak of nine consecutive weekends without measured rain may come to an end.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sun's Angle Lower & Shadows Longer Since First Day of Summer

Even though we're just a little more than a month removed from the Summer Solstice, there are subtle signs that the "longest day of the year" was just over four weeks ago. You may have noticed that the days are getting shorter, since the Sun rises 19 minutes later and the Sun sets 11 minutes earlier than it did on the first day of Summer. However, less discernible is the change in the length of shadows. Believe it or not, the shadows have been slowly getting longer, and that's due to the Sun's lower angle in the sky.

The Sun reached its highest angle in the sky --- or declination --- in the Northern Hemisphere on the first day of Summer. The declination of the Sun is the measurement of the angle between the Sun’s rays and the Earth’s equatorial plane. The Earth’s axis is tilted by 23.5 degrees away from the solar plane. This explains why we have different seasons and why the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere always have contradicting seasons. When tilted towards the Sun, it's Summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Sun’s declination varies throughout the year. Its declination becomes zero during the Spring Equinox and reaches the maximum declination angle of 23.5 degrees during the Summer Solstice. It reverts to zero declination when the Fall Equinox occurs and drops to a negative 23.5-degree declination during the Winter Solstice.

Today, for example, the declination of the Sun is an 20.24 degrees North of the celestial equator. That's more than three degrees lower than where it was June 20. By the end of the month, it will be 18.5 degrees North of the celestial equator. The Sun's declination will be +14.15 degrees by August 15, and +8.52 on the final day of next month. By September 16, it will be just 3.16 degrees North of the celestial equator. As you can see, the Sun's angle will be dropping lower in the sky over the next two months.

The change in the Sun’s declination results in yearly cycles which are observed as each season progresses. The declination of the Sun has effects on its own altitude and to the duration of daylight. The Sun reaches its highest altitude above the horizon each day at noon in the Northern Hemisphere. With respect to the celestial equator, it reaches the highest altitude of 73.5 degrees the first day of the Summer, while its altitude reaches the minimum 26.5 degrees during the first day of Winter.

Yesterday marked one month since the Summer Solstice, and the Autumnal Equinox is two months away. Hot and humid weather is expected through tomorrow before a cold front arrives, triggering showers and thunderstorms. Much more comfortable weather will be with us later Thursday into Friday.


Friday, July 18, 2014

"One Small Step for Man" Marks 45th Anniversary This Weekend

Some dates naturally carry more significance than others. Birthdays and anniversaries come to mind instantly. One such "anniversary" happened 45 years ago this Sunday. Those of you old enough to remember Sunday, July 20, 1969, no doubt can recall watching Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong descending the steps of the lunar module’s ladder and setting foot on the Moon for the first time. I was mesmerized by what I saw that night on the black-and-white Zenith television set in our living room.
Apollo 11, the fifth human spaceflight of the Apollo program, launched from the Kennedy Space Center four days earlier. As a young child of 10, watching the late Armstrong walk on the lunar surface was probably the most significant news event of my youth. I can still remember the late Walter Cronkite on CBS television describing the landing, and the bundle of nerves I felt for myself and the Apollo astronauts, Commander Neil Armstrong, Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Command Module Pilot Michael Collins.

I was fascinated by the space program in the 1960s. Naturally, I couldn’t wait for the landing of Apollo on the Moon. As I recall, while on the far side of the Moon, the lunar module, called the Eagle, separated from the Command Module, named Columbia. Collins remained alone in Columbia, while Armstrong and Aldrin used Eagle’s descent engine to right themselves and descend to the lunar surface. The wait seemed interminable for this youngster, who couldn’t believe that we would actually see LIVE images from the Moon later that night.

I kept asking questions of my Mom and Dad all day and evening. “What will it look like on television?” “When will the astronauts climb out of the Eagle?” “How are we able to see it if they’re so far away?” They couldn’t answer most of my questions since this had never happened before. I still couldn’t believe what we were about to see. I’m sure it’s what ultimately piqued my interest in astronomy, subsequent space missions, and Science in general. This is what it looked like 45 years ago this weekend.

Our family gathered in the living room in front of the small TV set with rabbit ears and watched as Cronkite prepared us for the first step on the Moon. Just over six-and-a half hours after Apollo 11 landed on the Moon at 4:17 p.m., we sat in silence and awe as Armstrong made his descent to the Moon’s surface at 10:56 p.m. and spoke his famous words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

I'm sure the momentous event will be featured on newscasts this weekend. Incredibly, more than half the people living in the United States today weren’t even born when Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon. It was arguably the most historic event of the 20th century. I, for one, am glad I saw it LIVE, and I will never forget it for the rest of my life!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Minneapolis to Host Mid-Summer Classic This Evening

The annual “Midsummer Classic” takes place in Minneapolis, Minnesota this evening, when the American League's Minnesota Twins host Major League Baseball’s All-Star game. It's the first time in 29 years that the Twins are hosting the game. The National League defeated the American League, 6-1, at the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome, 6-1, in front of 54,960 fans on July 16, 1985.

The weather forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and a temperature of 69 degrees at game time. There will be a light wind out of the Northwest at five to ten miles an hour, and the humidity will be a comfortable 53 percent. Sunset is at 8:56 p.m. The American League is hoping to make it back-to-back victories after posting a 3-0 shutout victory at Citi Field in New York last year to snap the National League's three-game winning streak.

Prior to 2010, the National League won just three All-Star games since 1988. The “Senior Circuit” won the 1994 contest in Pittsburgh, 8-7, in ten innings, and the next two years as well. However, the American League claimed 11 of the next 12 classics, with the only exception being the controversial 7-7 tie in Milwaukee 12 years ago. The National League is hoping to extend its winning streak to four games.

Asg69As for rainouts, perhaps the most memorable was the 1969 game in Washington. The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday evening, July 22, but a torrential rainstorm forced a postponement to the following day. I vividly recall the images of water flooding the dugouts at RFK Stadium in the nation’s capital. The outfield grass featured standing water and deep puddles. However, the next afternoon, 45,259 fans watched as the Nationals easily defeated the Americans, 9-3.

Willie McCovey of the San Francisco Giants was named the game’s Most Valuable Player by hitting home runs in the third and fourth innings. That tied the record previously set by Arky Vaughan (1941), Ted Williams (1946), and Al Rosen (1954). Johnny Bench also homered for the winners. Frank Howard, the hometown hero with the Senators, and Bill Freehan hit round trippers for the A. L. Oddly, the National League stretched its winning streak to seven games with the easy victory.

Asg67The first All-Star game I clearly remember was a “classic” in Anaheim in 1967 in which the National League edged the American League, 2-1, in 15 innings on a Tony Perez home run. Twelve pitchers were featured in the contest and each had at least one strikeout. There were 30 strikeouts in the game, an All-Star record. Tom Seaver of the Mets picked up the save by pitching a scoreless 15th inning for the National League.

Will the American League win again? It looks like Mother Nature won't play a role in this year's contest, save for the setting Sun and the pitcher throwing from the sunlight into the shadows early in the game. The Midsummer Classic means it’s time to relax, sit back, and enjoy major league baseball, just as long as the weather cooperates. Soon, it will be time to “Play Ball!”


Friday, July 11, 2014

July's Full Thunder Moon Happens Early Saturday

You may have noticed the nearly-full Moon in the Western sky early this morning. Unfortunately, lingering clouds partially obscured the view, but tonight will be mostly clear. That will afford us the perfect opportunity to see July's Full Thunder Moon. It will be completely full tomorrow at 7:25 a.m. EDT.

The Full Thunder Moon is so named since thunderstorms are common during this time of the year. Another name for this month’s Moon is the Full Buck Moon. July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer rush out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. Another name for this month’s Moon is the Full Hay Moon.

Full Moon names date back to Native Americans in 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.

A Full Moon rises at about the same time the Sun is setting. Since the length of daylight is about 15 hours and four minutes today, the Full Moon will rise later and set earlier this time of the year. In addition, the Full Moon will appear lower in the sky since it won’t be visible nearly as long as during the mid-Winter nights. However, since it is at perigee with the Earth, it will appear fuller and brighter than normal.

For example, the Moon rises at 7:35 this evening and sets at 5:52 tomorrow morning. That means the Moon will be visible for ten hours and 17 minutes. Conversely, six months from now in January when the amount of daylight is at a minimum, the Full Wolf Moon will appear higher in the sky and be visible for about 17-and-half-hours. That’s over seven hours longer than this time of the year!

A fairly nice weekend is ahead, but I'm not sure it will be the eighth straight weekend without any measured rain across southwestern Connecticut. Saturday will be mostly sunny and pleasant with a high temperature in the lower 80s. Sunday will be partly sunny and humid with a late-afternoon shower or thunderstorm and a high in the lower 80s. Monday and Tuesday will be humid with thunderstorms likely each day.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Deadly & Destructive Tornadoes Hit Connecticut a Quarter-Century Ago Today

One of the most unforgettable weather days happened 25 years ago today when a series of deadly and destructive tornadoes hit Connecticut on the afternoon of July 10, 1989. I was the early morning forecaster at the Western Connecticut State University weathercenter in Danbury back then. Although I predicted strong to severe thunderstorms for the region that afternoon, I never imagined the magnitude of the tornadoes which would strike Connecticut later that day.

I remember the storms began early that morning in upstate New York. A tornado hit Ogdensburg just before daybreak, injuring one person. One inch hail and wind gusts of over 50 miles an hour were a telltale sign that the approaching frontal boundary meant business. Many reports of wind damage in New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts occurred before noon.

Unfortunately, the timing of the storm had it moving into western Connecticut by the afternoon hours, when the atmosphere is most volatile due to the heating of the Sun. By midafternoon, as the atmosphere continued to heat up and the front moved eastward, the tornadoes developed. The first tornado, which may actually have been three distinctly separate tornadoes, started in the Northwest community of Cornwall, and leveled the Cathedral Pines forest.

The tornado continued south-southeast through Milton, leveling hundreds of trees and virtually destroying the village of Bantam before dissipating. A 12-year-old girl, who was on a campout with family and friends, was killed by falling trees in Black Rock State Park. Not much later, another tornado touched down in Watertown, passing through Oakville and northern Waterbury . That either damaged or destroyed over 150 homes and injured 70 people.


However, the most destructive tornado occurred in Hamden by late-afternoon. The path was only about five miles long, and it stopped just short of New Haven. The tornado destroyed almost 400 structures, and even cars were tossed into the air. Rows of houses and an industrial park were flattened as a result of the tornado. The storm was so strong that much of the area was without power for at least a week, and there were some trees still being cleared months later. The adjacent photo shows some of the damage in Hamden. This video was made for the Hamden Fire Department's Training Division the day after the tornado struck.

The powerful F-4 tornado which struck Hamden caused $100 million in damage and another $20 million in the Greater New Haven area. Forty people were injured in the tornado. After the tornado dissipated, a wind gust of 80 miles an hour was reported in New Haven. At about that time, another tornado struck Mount Carmel, tearing the roof off a condominium and injuring five people.

Of course, 25 years ago we didn't have the technology we do today, but I was still able to monitor the radar by the time I arrived home early in the afternoon. Remember, the Internet, News 12 Traffic and Weather, and access to instant local weather coverage didn't exist in those days. By the evening, the violent weather had ended, skies were clearing, and the damage had been done. It was certainly a day I'll never forget.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ridgefield Toddler Dies After Being Left in Hot Car

Recent stories about young children being left in cars during extreme heat have been headline news across Connecticut. It came to a head yesterday when Ridgefield police say a 15-month-old boy died after he was left in a hot car for an extended period of time. Police say the child died Monday at around 6 p.m. Police did not identify the location where the car was parked, but said it happened in Ridgefield. The child's name has also not been released. An autopsy is being done to determine the official cause of death.

Daytime temperatures have climbed well into the 80s and close to 90 degrees inland just about every day this month. However, inside a car, the mercury could possibly reach 107 degrees with an outside air temperature of 90 degrees in just 20 minutes. In fact, the temperature could rise to almost 120 degrees inside a hot vehicle within one hour. Take a look at the following graphic provided by the National Weather Service office in New York.

More than three dozen children die of hyperthermia in cars every year in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Since 1998, more than 500 children have died from hyperthermia after being in a hot automobile, Connecticut State Police noted. Ridgefield Police Captain Jeff Kreitz said yesterday the boy had been left inside the car for an "extended period of time." He declined to provide further details and did not say whether criminal charges were being considered.

Unfortunately, there have been other instances this week of children being left alone in cars. Two children were found by a New London police officer dripping sweat and reddened from the heat after they were left in a hot car Tuesday afternoon. Police say a car in the area of 200 State Street caught an officer’s attention close to 5 p.m. because the driver’s side rear door kept opening and shutting very quickly. When the officer investigated, he found a six-year-old and a nine-year-old in the car without any adults around. They were dripping with sweat, and their faces were reddened from the heat, police said.

Police say 27-year-old Cassandra Donnejour Nonossiold left an infant and a toddler inside of vehicle at a North Haven Target parking lot around 9:30 Monday night. According to a press release, Nonossiold allegedly brought one child into the store with her, but she left the infant and toddler because she didn’t want to wake them. According to police, Nonossoild allegedly locked the doors and left the windows cracked, then left the infant and toddler for 16 minutes while she shopped. A concerned passerby noticed and called 9-1-1.

Unfortunately, it takes a death close to home to emphasize how important it is not to leave children, elderly, or pets in cars during the hot Summer months. The temperature will soar to close to 120 degrees inside the vehicle in just one hour. I know from sitting in a parked car with the windows open how unbearably hot it can get. Please exercise extreme caution in the heat this Summer.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lawn Care Tips During July Heat

How is your lawn doing? My lawn is beginning to feel the effects of the strong July sunshine and hot weather. Officially, the high temperature reached 87 degrees yesterday afternoon at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, and today's forecast is 88 degrees. Six of the seven days this month have featured high temperatures of 85 degrees or higher, and the average monthly temperature is 75.9 degrees, which is 2.6 degrees above normal.

Cb004267 I've been watering the lawn every day for the last week. However, you may wonder when is the best time to water the lawn? According to, the best time to turn on your sprinkler is about 5 o'clock in the morning. Why? "Early morning watering is best due to the lack of evaporation that takes place, low winds that can blow you lawn dry, high humidity, and morning dew that adds to the moisture.

"Early morning watering helps to prevent lawn diseases that can be caused by watering at night because it gives your lawn time to dry by night fall. Obviously, this can be best accomplished with a sprinkler system, unless you just can't sleep, especially during the Summer months."

Here's another tip. Try watering a day before you plan on mowing your lawn if you dislike the browning that forms on the tips of the grass afterwards. This will allow your lawn to recover from the cutting and help it to look nicer as a result. Did you know that during the hottest Summer months, the surface of your closely cropped lawn can easily climb two dozen degrees above the outdoor air temperature? Heat is a killer.

LawnmowerSo is moisture loss, which occurs when the lawn is cut too frequently during high temperatures. Heat-stressed, dry lawns are extremely susceptible to insects, spotting, weeds, and root disease as they try to heal from literally being scalped. Many of my neighbors hire lawn cutters who appear at the same time every week to mow the lawns, whether they need it or not. I don't think I'll cut my lawn this weekend. It just doesn't need it.

According to, "It's important to realize that mowing actually creates a routine lawn injury. You can minimize the damage by using sharp blades and mowing in cooler morning or evening hours, but only when the lawn is dry. In the Summer months, you may have to mow more frequently, but always mow at a higher cut. If you're cutting more than 1/3 of the total height of the grass, you're scalping it.

Take care when mowing your lawn this Summer. Properly mowed lawns retain moisture, fostering deeper root growth, and the healthy blades of grass produce more of the nutrients necessary for your lawn to thrive in difficult conditions. So, even in the driest and warmest time of the year, it is possible to keep your lawn watered regularly and cut when needed.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Earth is Farthest from the Sun Today

Despite the heat and humidity this week, our planet is actually at its farthest point from the Sun today. According to the U. S. Naval Observatory, the Earth reaches a point in its orbit called "aphelion" at 8 o'clock EDT this evening. The Earth's aphelion is the point where it is the farthest from the Sun than at any time during the year.

The Earth is typically about 93 million miles from the Sun. However, because our planet's orbit is not a perfect circle but an ellipse, it has a farthest point and a closest point to the Sun. In case you're wondering, the Earth's closest approach to the Sun is called perihelion, and that occurs in early January. The Earth is exactly 3,104,641 miles (or 3.28 percent) farther from the Sun than at its closest approach. The Earth actually receives about seven percent less heat at its aphelion than at its closest approach, according to researchers.

Although the date for both will vary from year to year, the Earth will always be closest to the Sun in early January and the farthest away in early July. Not surprisingly, that comes as a surprise to most people. At perihelion, our planet is about 91 million miles from the Sun. It moves outward to about 95 million miles from the Sun at aphelion. Naturally, some people have the mistaken impression that our seasons are caused by the changes in Earth's distance from the Sun, but this is not the case.

The temperatures and the seasons are not affected by the proximity of the Earth to the Sun or even the rotation of the planet on its axis. Rather, it is the tilt of the Earth that determines the climate. When it is at perihelion in January, the Earth is tilted away from the Sun in the Northern Hemisphere, and the sunlight is not "getting a direct hit" on the Earth's atmosphere. However, when it is at aphelion in July, the Earth is tilted toward the Sun.

Officially, at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, the high temperatures each of the last two days were 87 and 88 degrees, respectively. Today's high is expected to reach the middle 80s. The normal high is 82 degrees. So, as you cool off at the pool, beach, or by the air conditioner today, take comfort in the fact that our planet is farther from the Sun today than at any other day of the year.


Strong Thunderstorms Brought Locally Heavy Rain

Strong thunderstorms pushed through southwestern Connecticut late yesterday. A hot and humid air mass triggered the storm outbreak as the mercury climbed to 88 degrees at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford. Officially, a half-inch of rain was recorded at the airport, but many local communities received more rain. Andrew Colabella took this photo during the severe thunderstorm in Westport.

Nick Ferrando, an aspiring meteorologist and storm chaser who follows me on Twitter, took this photo of lightning in Stratford.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

June Finished Wetter & Warmer Than Normal

Even though there were only five days with more than a tenth of an inch of rain last month at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, the total rainfall was nearly a half-inch above normal. Officially, more than four inches (4.01") were recorded, which is well above the 3.61" normal for June. In addition, the average temperature last month was 69.4 degrees, which is nearly one degree above normal (68.6).

There were seven days with measured rain in June, including more than an inch-and-a-half (1.65") June 13. Three other days featured more than a half-inch of rain, including June 5 (0.72"), June 9 (0.78"), and June 19 (0.66"). There were two streaks of five straight days without measured rain (June 14 through June 18 and June 20 through June 24). However, only 0.03" of rain fell over the last 11 days last month.

Twenty-one of the 30 days last month featured average daily temperatures at or above normal. Six of the first eight days in June were warmer than normal. Four of the five days from June 9 through June 13 were cooler-than-normal, while June 21 through June 23 saw the average daily temperatures below normal. Otherwise, six of the last seven days last month were warmer-than-normal.

The mercury didn't reach 90 degrees the entire month, marking just the fourth time on record (since 1948) at the airport that the temperature failed to reach 90 degrees through the first six months of the year. The three other years were 1950, 1962, and 2004. The hottest day was June 18 (89) degrees, while the temperature soared to 88 degrees June 26. The coolest temperature last month was 50 degrees on June 1.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

One Year Anniversary of Tornado in Greenwich & Stamford

The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado moved through Greenwich and Stamford Monday morning, July 1, 2013. The tornado touched down on North Street in Greenwich just North of the Merritt Parkway. It continued East/Northeast into Stamford and lifted on Janes Lane, approximately a half-mile West of Scofieldtown Road.

Extendive tree damage was observed along the tornado's path, starting on Taconic Road and continuing onto Skyridge Road. The worst stree damage was observed just South of the intersection of Stag Lane and Stanwich Road. Tree damage continued onto Carrington Drive and at the Mead House Farm. The tornado began to weaken as it moved into Stamford, just South of Web Hills Road and Lynam Road. There were no injuries, and no visible structural damage was observed during the survey.


According to Dan Warzoha of Greenwich Emergency Management, "The first initial reports were (of a) thunderstorm, possibly (a) microburst. When we got crews to the area, it was evident to us something more forceful had happened."

The estimated time of the tornado was between 10:58 and 11:08 a.m. EDT, and the estimated maximum wind speed was 80 miles per hour. The maximum path width of the tornado was 150 yards, and the path length was 3.7 miles. Governor Dannel Malloy signed an emergency order after the tornado swept through the region.