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 ...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Today Marks 11th Anniversary of Presidents Day Blizzard

Today marks the 11th anniversary of the unforgettable Presidents Day Blizzard of 2003. It ranked as the snowiest day on record at the time at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, tying the previous mark of 16 inches established on December 19, 1948, over a half-century ago. In New York's Central Park, where records date back well over a century, the 19.8 inches ranked as the fifth snowiest single day total. The weather map below is from midday February 17, 2003.

Nationalfronts1500z17feb03

The snowfall totals across southwestern Connecticut were impressive. Darien and New Canaan measured the most snow (20 inches), while Westport (19"), Bridgeport (17"), Norwalk (16"), and Milford (15") also posted impressive totals. New Fairfield, in Northern Fairfield County, led the way locally with exactly two feet of snow. Here is the satellite image of the massive storm.

Sat1500z17feb03

The magnitude of the storm was quite impressive. It spread heavy snow across the major cities in the Northeast from Washington to Boston. In fact, it was the biggest snowstorm on record in Baltimore (28.2") and Boston (27.5"). The storm actually developed in the southern Rockies on February 14 and moved through southern Missouri and the lower Tennessee Valley over the next two days. Eventually, the storm brought heavy rain and severe weather to the deep South.

In the Northeast, Arctic air helped slow down the storm and kept all of the precipitation in the form of snow and some sleet. By late Sunday evening, February 16, the snow reached the New York City area, and by midnight, it was snowing across all of southwestern Connecticut. A secondary area of low pressure developed off the Virginia coast the morning of February 17, turning the Nor'easter into a full-blown blizzard.

I'm often asked how it feels to work during a major storm, from driving into work in the middle of the night to staying on the air for hours at a time. I tell people it's kind of like my version of the Super Bowl or the World Series. I'm on the main stage, and my adreline is flowing all day long. The viewers play a vital role by sending me their weather observations, current conditions, and photos which I use all the time. During a big storm, give me the ball or, in this case, clicker! It's the "big time" for me.

Another snow event is expected later today into early tomorrow afternoon. This next system, however, will pale in comparison to the blizzard 11 years ago today. Two-to-three inches of snow are possible by Tuesday afternoon before much milder air arrives by the middle of the week. In fact, the mercury may come close to 50 degrees by Friday with some light rain.

Paul