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 ...

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Classic February Nor'easter Top Local Weather Story of the Year

A classic Nor'easter delivered heavy snow and strong winds to southwestern Connecticut February 13 and 14, 2014, nearly paralyzing local roads and closing schools. The Winter storm is the top local weather story this year. The heavy snow pushed the season's total well over four feet. The snow began falling lightly just after 1 o'clock Thursday morning, February 13, and the heaviest snow fell between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. Here is the surface map from 7 a.m.

There were white-out conditions during the morning with snow rates of one-to-three inches an hour. Another round of light snow developed early Friday, February 14, padding the snow totals. Cumulatively, nearly a foot-and-a-half of snow fell in Darien and Fairfield, and over a foot of snow was reported in New Canaan, Weston, Norwalk, Stamford, and Sikorsky Memorial Airport. Here are the snowfall totals from February 13 & 14 for southwestern Connecticut.

The storm's cumulative snow total was 12.2" at the airport, and that helped push the monthly total to nearly three feet (32.1"). Local climatologist Ralph Fato created this video showing the key highlights of the storm.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Nearly a Half-Foot of Snow Fell Two Years Ago Today

A storm system brought significant snow to Eastern Connecticut and plowable snow across Fairfield County two years ago today. The late-December storm, which arrived early Saturday afternoon, December 29, 2012, intensified as it moved away to the East, delivering nearly a foot of snow across parts of New Haven and New London counties. Officially, nearly five inches (4.8") of snow fell at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, bringing the monthly total to nearly eight inches (7.8").

That brought the 2012-2013 seasonal snowfall total to nearly a foot-and-a-half (16.2"), which is more than double the normal (7.3") through the date. That's more than four times greater than the previous year's total (4.0") through December 30. It was the fourth day with measured snowfall in December of 2012 and the eighth day that month with at least a trace of snow. Take a look at this photo sent by Lisa Chubinsky in Wilton. Her sons, Michael and Eric, made their first snowman of the season.

Officially, Shelton had the highest snow total across Fairfield County (6.3"), followed by New Canaan (5.8"), Newtown (5.4"), Bridgeport (4.6"), Redding (4.5"), Weston (4.3"), Norwalk (3.2"), and Darien (2.3"). New Haven County and points East received much more snow. In fact, Madison measured nearly a foot (11.2") West Haven had over a half foot (7.0"), and Milford had nearly a half-foot (5.0").


Friday, December 26, 2014

Powerful Blizzard Happened Four Years Ago Today

A powerful blizzard, which delivered about a foot-and-a-half of snow, 60 mile-per-hour wind gusts, and power outages throughout southwestern Connecticut, happened four years ago, December 26 and 27, 2010. The timing of the blizzard affected thousands of holiday travelers during Christmas weekend.


It was the first time I wasn't able to drive to work on my own. One of my neighbors agreed to drive me to the studio in his snowplow during the height of the blizzard early Monday morning. I'm glad he did. To be sure, my Chevy Cavalier wouldn't have made the journey from Fairfield to Norwalk.

Officially, 12 inches of snow fell at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford from Sunday morning through early Monday morning.The eight inches of snow which fell Sunday marked the third snowiest December day on record in southwestern Connecticut. Only December 19, 1948 (16 inches), and December 30, 2000 (10 inches) brought more snow in one day. Here are some impressive snow totals from across southwestern Connecticut:
  • Wilton: 18"
  • New Canaan: 17.5"
  • Greenwich: 17"
  • Stratford: 16"
  • Norwalk: 16"
  • Westport: 14.8"
  • Darien: 14.5"
  • Milford: 14"
  • Bridgeport: 12"


The biting wind was brutal if you were outside for any length of time. Sustained winds of 25 to 35 miles an hour were recorded late Sunday night and Monday, and wind gusts reached 60 miles at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford (9:21 p.m.) and Greenwich (10:00 p.m.) late Sunday evening. I was surprised that there weren't more widespread power outages.


What a difference a couple of years makes. Today will be sunny and mild with a high temperature climbing into the 50s, which is well above normal for this time of the year. Some showers are expected tomorrow, though, as a cold front pushes through the region. However, it won't be anything like what we experienced four years ago this week.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Recalling a Snowy Christmas Eve Nearly a Half-Century Ago

We certainly won't have a white Christmas this year. However, I can't help but recall the snowiest and most memorable Night Before Christmas in my lifetime. Forty-eight years ago, over a half-foot of snow blanketed southwestern Connecticut on Saturday, December 24, 1966, resulting in treacherous roads, numerous accidents, and cancelled church services. Officially, 6.9 inches of snow fell at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, which still stands as a record nearly a half-century later.

According to an article which appeared in the Bridgeport Sunday Post the following day, the "weather plight was part of an old-fashioned Nor'easter, which brought icy cold, high winds, and a blanket of snow to most of the East (coast)." Gale force winds hammered the region through most of the storm. Take a look at the front page newspaper article from December 25, 1966:



I recall my Dad attempting to drive my family, including my Mom, brother, sister, and me to my grandmother's home in Bridgeport for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. However, after sliding and skidding several times, our car got stuck on a hill in Fairfield. After several minutes, my Dad was able to gain some traction, and we decided to head home and avoid any more perils on the roads.

Although it's been 48 years since that unforgettable Christmas Eve, I remember it like it was yesterday. Do you have any memories of that storm from 1966? If so, I'd like to hear from you. Our weather won't be quite as memorable this year, but it will be wet and windy for Santa's trip to southwestern Connecticut.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Snowiest December Day on Record Happened on This Date in 1948

The snowiest December day on record in Bridgeport happened 66 years ago today. Sixteen inches of snow fell on Sunday, December 19, 1948. It is one of only two days in December with double-digit snowfall. The other was December 30, 2000, when 10 inches fell.

Take a look at the front page of the Naugatuck Daily News from the following morning, Monday, December 20, 1948. Please click the image to enlarge and read the story.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Winter Solstice 10 Days Away

We're just 10 days away from the start of Winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Winter officially arrives Sunday, December 21, at 6:03 p.m. EST. Whenever I visited a school to conduct my Weatherkids program, many schoolchildren ask me why the start of a new season doesn't begin at midnight on a certain date, much like the beginning of a new year. The answer has to do with the Earth, the tilt on its axis, and its revolution around the Sun.

I've always maintained that the start of a new season is more of an "event" than watching the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve. That's because New Year's Day is a "man-made" holiday which can arbitrarily occur at any time during a calendar year. An equinox or a solstice, however, marks a precise time when the Sun's rays strike a particular point on the face of the Earth. I try to observe the arrival of a new season, and next Thursday will be no exception.

As the Earth travels around the Sun in its orbit, the North-South position of the Sun changes over the course of the year due to the changing orientation of the Earth's tilt with respect to the Sun. The dates of maximum tilt of the Earth's equator correspond to the Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice, and the dates of zero tilt correspond to the Vernal Equinox and Autumnal Equinox.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice is day of the year when the Sun is farthest South. However, in the Southern Hemisphere, the Winter and Summer Solstices are the opposite, so that the Winter Solstice occurs on the first day of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere. The Sun's direct rays will be over the Tropic of Capricorn next Thursday morning.

The Winter Solstice also marks the "shortest day" of the year in terms of daylight. The length of time elapsed between Sunrise and Sunset at the Winter Solstice is at a minimum for the year. Of course, Daylight Saving Time means that the last Sunday in March has 23 hours and the first Sunday in November has 25 hours, but it does not correspond to the actual number of daylight hours.

Finally, the shadows cast by the Sun will be at their longest by the end of next week, since the Sun is at its lowest point in the sky. The actual times of Sunrise and Sunset in southwestern Connecticut for the Solstice are 7:16 a.m. and 4:27 p.m., respectively. Consider that on the first day of Summer in late June, the Sun rises at 5:19 a.m. and sets at 8:30 p.m. So, next Sunday's "length of day" is only nine hours and 11 minutes as opposed to 15 hours and 11 minutes exactly a half-year later.

So, as we prepare to welcome Winter, also realize that a week from next Sunday marks a turning point. The days will gradually begin to get longer from this point forward until the end of June. Things can only get brighter from here on out.