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, August 19, 2015

Today Marks the 60th Anniversary of the Flood of 1955

Today marks the 60th anniversary of The Flood of 1955, which was the direct result of the effects of hurricanes Connie and Diane less than a week apart in August of 1955.

Here is the front-page story from The Bridgeport Telegram the following day, Saturday, August 20, 1955. Please click "view" to enlarge and read.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Marking the 60th Anniversary of Hurricane Connie in 1955

Many long-time area residents will never forget the deluge which happened 60 years ago today. Hurricane Connie brought nearly four inches (3.92") of rain to the region on Friday, August 12, 1955. Take a look at the front page of The Bridgeport Telegram from Saturday, August 13, 1955.


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 12 and 13, 1955. Then, just five days later, Tropical Storm Diane followed suit creating massive flooding not seen since the 1930s. Take a look at the front page of The Bridgeport Telegram from Saturday, August 20, 1955.


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. Read the Valley News archive of daily weather events from August of 1955 to gain a better understanding of the power of those two August hurricanes!

While the two hurricanes affected the entire Atlantic coast, Connecticut suffered the most damage. For example, of the 180 lives that were lost, 77 were in Connecticut. Of the 680 million dollars in property damage, over 350 million dollars occurred in Connecticut. Over 200 dams in New England suffered partial to total failure. Many of these were in the area immediately south of Worcester, in the Thames and Blackstone headwaters. Here is a photo of Winsted, Connecticut, virtually devastated following the flood.


If August was not bad enough, two months later, a four day storm dumped an additional 12-14 inches of rain in southwestern New England. This event was not as widespread as the August storms, but record flood levels were achieved in some locations of the Housatonic and Hudson River basins. The tropical season has been fairly quiet thus far, but things usually stir in late August and September. Tropical Storm Irene (2011) and Hurricane Gloria (1985) are two recent examples.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Perseid Meteor Showers to Peak This Week

The 2015 Perseid meteor showers will peak this Tuesday, August 11, through Thursday, August 13. A new Moon on August 14, 2015 will create perfect conditions for watching the meteor shower. However, clouds will increase this afternoon, and rain is expected later tonight through much of the day tomorrow. In fact, nearly an inch-and-a-half of rain may fall across southwestern Connecticut.

The Perseids are visible from all over the Northern Hemisphere. To have the best chance of seeing a meteor, pick a dark area (as far from bright city lights as possible) and face northeast. The meteors were appear to radiate out from the constellation Perseus, hence their name: Perseids.

While showers are hard to forecast, astronomers with the Royal Astronomical Society believe there will be at least one meteor every few minutes. A NASA advisory for the 2015 Perseid meteor shower predicted up to 100 meteors per hour.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

August Traditionally Hot and Tropical

July is just about over. Although the official climatology report won't be released until the end of the month, it's safe to say that July was slightly warmer and drier than normal. In fact, there weren't any heat waves during the month, and there were just a pair of back-to-back 90+ degree days at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford. The month of August is knocking on the door, and it can be quite tropical.

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. Nine 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 early next week. And, the 'Dog Days of Summer' come to a close August 11. It's still Summertime, though. Daytime high temperatures will continue to climb well into the 80s and close to 90 degrees in some parts of the state through the upcoming weekend. Good-bye, July!


Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer "Blue Moon" Happens This Friday, July 31

For the second time this month, the Moon is about to become full. The first full Moon happened July 2nd, and now a second is coming on July 31st. According to modern folklore, whenever there are two full Moons in a calendar month, the second one is "blue."


Saturday, July 25, 2015

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. Another nice day is ahead, but the humidity will build over the next few days and a heat wave is possible by the middle of next week before July comes to a close.

Believe it or not, 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 8:16, 14 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 defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, opens training camp next Wednesday, July 29, in Foxboro, Massachsetts. Their first exhibition game is scheduled for Thursday, August 13, at home against the Green Bay Packers. That's less than three weeks away! Before you know it, the regular season will be here.

Make sure you get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather day. Some clouds will build into the region later this afternoon as high temperatures reach into the 80s. Tonight will be mostly cloudy and more humid with a possible shower or thunderstorm. The first heat wave of the season is possible by the middle of next week.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Apollo 11 Astronauts Returned Home Safely 46 Years Ago Today

The Apollo 11 astronauts returned home from the first Moon landing 46 years ago today. Here is the front page story from The Bridgeport Telegram dated July 25, 1969. Please click it to enlarge and read.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Remembering Neil Armstrong's First Moonwalk 46 Years Ago

Here is the front-page story from The Bridgeport Post dated Monday, July 21, 1969. Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the Moon. Please click the story to enlarge and read.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Today Marks 46th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Walk

Some dates naturally carry more significance than others. Birthdays and anniversaries come to mind instantly. One such "anniversary" happened 46 years ago today. 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.

Apollo-11-patchI 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 46 years ago today.

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 don't know if there will be any mention of it on any newscasts today. Six years ago, however, it was a different story as it marked the 40th anniversary of that unforgettable day. 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 14, 2015

Cincinnati to Host Major League Baseball's All Star Game for First Time Since 1988

The annual “Midsummer Classic” takes place in Cincinnati, Ohio, this evening, when the National League's Cincinnati Reds host Major League Baseball’s All-Star game. It's the first time in 27 years that the Reds are hosting the game. The American League defeated the National League, 2-1, at Riverfront Stadium on July 12, 1988, in front of 55,837 fans. That began a string of dominance for the American League.

The weather forecast calls for a chance of showers and thunderstorms until the first pitch is thrown at 8:15 EDT. It will be warm at The Great American Ballpark. The game time temperature will be 74 degrees with a 43% chance of rain and a West/Northwest wind at 10 miles an hour. Conditions should improve as the game progresses.

The American League is hoping to make it three wins in a row after posting a 5-3 victory at Target Field in Minneapolis last year. 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 13 years ago. Overall, the National League has won just six times since 1987.

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 may play a role early in this year's contest. In case you're wondering, sunset is at 9:04 p.m. in Cincinnati, meaning the shadows from home plate to the pitcher's mound may become an issue. 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 10, 2015

Deadly & Destructive Tornadoes Hit Connecticut 26 Years Ago Today

One of the most unforgettable weather days happened 26 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, 26 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 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.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Lawn Care Tips During Summertime Heat

How is your lawn doing? My lawn is beginning to feel the effects of the strong July sunshine and heat and humidity of the last few days. Officially, today's high temperature at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford was 84 degrees at 1:43 p.m. That's two degrees above normal and the warmest temperature this month. In addition, the dew point soared to 74 degrees for only the second time this year.
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.

Cb004267"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.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Earth is Farthest From the Sun Today

Despite the warm and humid weather today, our planet is actually at its farthest point from the Sun today. According to the U. S. Naval Observatory, the Earth reached a point in its orbit called "aphelion" at 3:41 p.m. EDT. The Earth's aphelion is the point where it is the farthest from the Sun than at any time during the year at a distance of 94,506,507 miles.

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.

Today's high temperature at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford was 81 degrees at 11:25 a.m., and the low temperature was 66 degrees for a 74-degree average. That's exactly normal for the date. So, even though it was a good day for the beach or pool, the Earth was actually at its farthest point from the Sun in its annual orbit.


Friday, July 3, 2015

The 'Dog Days' of Summer Have Officially Arrived

Dog_daysThe “Dog Days” of Summer officially start today. No, that’s not because I relented and turned on the air conditioners. Most people casually refer to the "Dog Days" as a period of hot and humid weather. But did you know that the dog days are a 40-day period which lasts from early July through mid-August?

The dog days of Summer run from July 3 through August 11 in the Northern Hemisphere and have to do with the star Sirius, known as “the dog star.” Sirius is the brightest star in the Northern Hemisphere other than the Sun, and it is found in the constellation Canis Major; thus the name “dog star.”

In the Summer, Sirius rises and sets with the Sun. During late July, Sirius is in “conjunction” with the Sun. The ancients believed that its heat added to the heat of the Sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, the “dog days” after the dog star.

Sirius2In ancient times, when the night sky was unobscured by artificial lights and smog, different groups of peoples in different parts of the world drew images in the sky by “connecting the dots” of stars. The images drawn were dependent upon the culture.

The Chinese saw different images than the Native Americans, who saw different pictures than the Europeans. These star pictures are now called constellations, and the constellations that are now mapped out in the sky come from our European ancestors.

They saw images of bears (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor), twins (Gemini), a bull (Taurus), and others, including dogs (Canis Major and Canis Minor). The brightest of the stars in Canis Major (the big dog) is Sirius. The star can be seen prominently in the Winter in the Northern Hemisphere, adjacent to Orion the Hunter.

The conjunction of Sirius with the Sun varies somewhat with latitude. Also, the constellations today are not in exactly the same place in the sky as they were in ancient Rome. Although we are in the middle of the dog days of Summer right now, the heat is not due to the added radiation from a far-away star, regardless of its brightness. The heat of Summer is a direct result of the earth’s 23.5 degree tilt on its axis, meaning the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the Sun during the Summer.

Welcome to the "Dog Days."


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Previewing the Month of July

Half the year is over. Now that July is here, it’s time to look ahead at what the month brings climatologically to southwestern Connecticut. I'm sure you remember the record heat wave two years ago. The temperature climbed to 90 degrees July 14 and reached into the 90s the next six days for a seven-day heat wave. That was unprecedented across southwestern Connecticut. In fact, we also experienced a four-day heat wave from July 5 through July 8.

Not surprisingly, July is the warmest month of the year with a mean temperature of 74 degrees. The hottest temperature ever recorded at the airport happened  July 22, 2011, when the mercury topped 103 degrees, tying the record originally set in 1957. The following day, July 23, 2011, another record high of 96 degrees was recorded.

The mercury reached the century mark two other times — July 2, 1966 and July 5, 1999. In fact, the average daily temperature climbs from 72 degrees at the start of the month to 75 by July 31. July of 2013 was the warmest on record with an average temperature of 78.5 degrees, breaking the previous mark of 78.4 degrees in 1994.

July of 2010 was another hot one. You may recall the heat wave over the Independence Day holiday weekend five years ago. The high temperatures from July 4 through July 7, 2010, were 97, 93, 98, and 95 degrees, respectively. In fact, record high temperatures were established July 6 and 7. The mercury also reached 95 degrees July 24. The average temperature for the month was 78 degrees, a half-degree shy of the all-time record set in 2013.

Many people have asked me why the hottest time of the year happens over a month after the first day of Summer. Well, it takes the Earth awhile to absorb the heat. As the Sun’s angle gets higher in the sky and the days grow longer in May and June, the Northern Hemisphere slowly starts to warm.

It’s much like warming your home. When you turn your thermostat up to 72 degrees after being away all day in the Winter, it will take awhile for the house to warm up. It doesn’t happen instantly. That’s why our hottest days are typically in July and early August.

On the flip side, the coolest temperature ever recorded in these parts in July was 49 degrees on July 1, 1988. Aside from that, every record low for the month is in the 50s. Believe it or not, according to the National Weather Service record book, a trace of snow fell at the airport on July 4, 1950. I find that too hard to believe.

As far as precipitation is concerned, the wettest July on record happened in 1971 when over a foot of rain (12.84″) fell. The average monthly rainfall is 3.77 inches. There have been several memorable rainstorms in July. For example, nearly a half-foot (5.95″) of rain fell on July 19, 1971, and nearly four inches (3.93″) was recorded on July 29, 1990. Two other days delivered well over three inches of rain — July 30, 1960 (3.57″) and July 23, 1953 (3.45″).

The length of daylight actually decreases this month. For example, today, the Sun rises at 5:23 and sets at 8:30. By the middle of the month, on July 15, the Sun rises at 5:32 and sets at 8:24. However, at the end of the month, it rises at 5:47 and sets at 8:10, meaning we lose 44 minutes of daylight. Remember, the “longest” day of the year happened at the Summer Solstice in late June.

Enjoy July!


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

July's Full Buck Moon Precedes Full Blue Moon

I'm sure you've noticed the waxing Moon in the sky over the last few days. Even though it appeared nearly full and brilliant last night, the Full Buck Moon happens at 10:20 p.m. EDT Wednesday. Unfortunately, our skies will be mostly cloudy tomorrow evening, but we'll have another chance to see the full moon the last day of the month.

The "Blue Moon" happens July 31. There are, in fact, two definitions for a blue moon. According to the more recent definition, a blue moon is the second full moon in a calendar month. For a blue moon to occur, the first of the full moons must appear at or near the beginning of the month so that the second will fall within the same month (the average span between two moons is 29.5 days).

The older definition, which is recorded in early issues of the Maine Farmer's Almanac, states that the blue moon is the third full moon in a season that has four full moons. Why would one want to identify the third full moon in a season of four full moons? The answer is complex, and has to do with the Christian ecclesiastical calendar.

So, how did July's full moon get its name? It is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer rush out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It is also often called the Full Thunder Moon, since thunderstorms are common during this time of the year. 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 six minutes tomorrow, 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.

For example, the Moon rises at 7:57 Wednesday evening and sets at 6:07 Thursday morning. That means the Moon will be visible for 10 hours and 10 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 eight hours longer than this time of the year!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tornado Ripped Through Bridgeport Five Years Ago Today

It only took a matter of minutes, but a violent thunderstorm spawned a tornado which ripped through the Greater Bridgeport area three years ago today, resulting in much damage, destruction, and a loss of electricity for thousands. A powerful cold front collided with a hot and humid air mass to set the stage for a Tornado Warning and a strong thunderstorm cell between 2 and 3 o'clock Thursday afternoon, June 24, 2010.

The temperature soared to 90 degrees for the second day in a row at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford that day, but the dew point --- or moisture content in the atmosphere --- was extremely high. As the front approached, the sky darkened, the heavens opened up, and vivid lightning along with hurricane-force wind gusts ripped through the Park City. Here is a photo of Washington Park in Bridgeport taken by one of our viewers, Melissa, following the storm.


There was dangerous cloud-to-ground lightning and a wind gust of 78 miles-an-hour in Bridgeport. The average wind speed during the height of the storm was 43 miles-an-hour. Nearly a half-inch of rain fell in a short period of time, resulting in some minor flooding of low-lying areas. But, it was the wind damage which caused a state of emergency to be declared in Bridgeport. Take a look at this picture of a fallen tree in the Park City taken by Takina.


Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and former Governor Jodi Rell arrived on the scene to survey the damage from the storm. "It looks like Godzilla went through and ripped roofs off and threw cars around and tore wires down," Finch said as he spoke with reporters and residents who had gathered in the streets. "I mean, it's really amazing," he added. Shelley sent two photos of the damage on East Main Street.



Bethany sent the following photo of downtown Bridgeport.


Personally, my family and I ran to the basement that afternoon once we heard a Tornado Warning was issued and the skies darkened. In a matter of minutes, the wind began to howl and heavy rain fell. My sons were worried that a tornado would rip apart our home. Not unexpectedly, the power went out, but the storm exited shortly thereafter. We didn't get our electricity back until just before midnight. Here's one more photo taken by Amanda of minor flooding on James Street in Bridgeport.



Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer Solstice Happens Early This Afternoon

Ask any child when Summer begins, and he or she will undoubtedly respond with the date of the last day of school. Ask an adult and his or her answer is most likely either June 20 or June 21. In case you're wondering, the Summer Solstice happens today in the Northern Hemisphere at 12:38 p.m. EDT.

That’s when the Sun’s rays will be directly over the Tropic of Cancer, marking their northernmost point on the face of the Earth. The Sun rises at 5:19 a.m. and sets at 8:30 p.m., which is the latest Sunset during the year. We’ll enjoy 15 hours and 11 minutes of Sunlight on the first day of Summer.

Two days later, the Sun rises at 5:20, and the days begin to get “shorter” once again. Remember, since the first day of Summer is “the longest day” of the year, the days actually become shorter by the end of the month and the remainder of the Summer.

So, why does the Summer Solstice actually happen? Well, the seasons of the year are caused by the 23.5 degree tilt of the Earth’s axis. Because the Earth rotates like a gyroscope, the North Pole points in a fixed position constantly, while the Earth is revolving around the Sun. During one half of the year, the Northern Hemisphere has more exposure to the Sun than the Southern Hemisphere, while the reverse is true during the other half of the year. At noontime, the Sun appears high in the sky during Summertime, and when the Sun reaches its maximum elevation, or angle, in the sky, that’s when the Summer Solstice happens.

Summer_smallSummer was a joyous time of the year in prehistoric times for the Aboriginal people who lived in the Northern latitudes. The snow had melted, the ground thawed out, and warm temperatures returned. Flowers were in full bloom, and leaves had returned to the trees. More important, food was easier to find, and crops had been planted and would be harvested for months to come. The Full Moon is June is called the Full Honey Moon. Tradition dictates that this is the best time to harvest honey from the hives.

This time of the year, between the planting and harvesting of crops, is the traditional time for weddings because many ancient peoples believed that the grand union of the goddess and god occurred in early May. Since it was unlucky to compete with the gods, many people delayed their weddings until June. Today, June remains a favorite month for marriage.

Native Americans have constructed many stone structures linked to the Equinoxes and Solstices. Many are still standing today. One of them is called Calendar One. It is a natural amphitheatre of about 20 acres in size in Vermont. From a stone enclosure in the center of the bowl, one can see a number of vertical rocks and other markers around the edge of the bowl. “At the Summer Solstice, the Sun rose at the southern peak of the East ridge and set at a notch at the southern end of the West ridge.” The Winter Solstice and both equinoxes were similarly marked.

I’d love to be at Calendar One today. The start of each of the four seasons carries more significance to this writer than New Year’s Day, which, in essence, is an arbitrary day on the calendar. Summer is here, and that is reason to celebrate in the Northern Hemisphere.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Full Strawberry Moon Happens Just After Noon Today

The Full Strawberry Moon happens just after noon today at 12:19 p.m. The name was was universal to every Algonquin tribe. However, in Europe they called it the Rose Moon. The relatively short season for harvesting strawberries comes each year during the month of June, so the Full Moon that occurs during that month was christened for the strawberry!


The June Full Moon is also called a Honey Moon in the Northern Hemisphere, possibly because it never gets very high in the sky. When we gaze toward the Full Moon tonight, we are seeing it through more of the Earth’s atmosphere than when the Moon is overhead. The atmosphere reddens its color.

The Full Moon is especially low in the Northern Hemisphere because it occurs just about a week before the Summer Solstice. The Full Moon is opposite the Sun in the sky. Therefore, when the Sun is higher in the Summer sky, the Full Moon is lower. Every Full Moon stands more or less opposite the Sun in our sky. That’s why the Moon looks full.

Around the world tonight, the Moon will rise around sunset, climb to its highest point around midnight, and set close to sunrise. As seen from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, the Moon – like the December Solstice Sun – will rise far South of due East and set far South of due West.

North of the Arctic Circle, tonight’s Moon – like the Winter Sun – will be too far South to climb above the horizon. Meanwhile, in the Southern Hemisphere – where it’s Winter now – tonight’s Moon will mimic the Summer Sun, arcing high in the heavens. South of the Antarctic Circle, the Moon will simulate the midnight Sun – up all hours around the clock.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Today Marks 19th Anniversary of Warmest Spring Day on Record

Today marks the 19th anniversary of the warmest May day on record. The mercury soared to 97 degrees at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford on Monday, May 20, 1996, nearly 30 degrees higher than the average high temperature for the date. In fact, only one other Spring day has been as warm, and that happened on June 9 of 2008. What made the record high of 1996 so memorable was that it happened just 40 days after nearly a foot of snow capped the snowiest Winter on record, and just days after much colder-than-normal temperatures.

“Just over a week ago, the climate got rewound to Winter,” wrote N. R. Kleinfield of The New York Times in an article dated May 21, 1996. “Six inches of snow coated parts of upstate New York (as if the year required more snow). In the city last week, the high temperature dipped to the 50s. Spring, you might have noticed, either got lost or just forgot to come. Then came yesterday (May 20, 1996). It all got fast-forwarded to August. Bathing suits instead of ski parkas,” he continued.

“Turn off the heater and turn up the air-conditioner. What’s going on? Is this Earth or is this Mars? People could be excused for being mystified, discombobulated, distraught, furious, dazed, crazed, tentative, dizzy and, of course, just plain really, really hot.” The temperature reached a record high of 96 degrees in Central Park, eclipsing the previous record of 91 set in 1959, and a new record was established in Newark, where it was 99 degrees. Incredibly, just over a week earlier, on the weekend of May 11 and 12, 1996, it snowed in upstate New York.

Remember, the first two-and-a-half weeks of May in 1996 were unseasonably chilly. The record heat and outages at two power plants, one in Westchester and one in upstate New York, reduced the electricity reserves of New York state’s power pool, leading Consolidated Edison to ask customers to curtail electricity consumption. With air-conditioners thrumming away, demand in New York City reached around 9,000 megawatts, well above the normal 7,000 to 8,000 megawatts for this time of year.

Twelve years later, a late Spring scorcher, which included another 97-degree Spring day, forced area schools to dismiss early and close in early June of 2008. Temperatures soared to 90 degrees or hotter on Sunday, June 8 (90 degrees), Monday, June 9 (97), and Tuesday, June 10 (96). The normal high temperature for the first week of June is 74 degrees. It’s the first time in recent memory that school systems shut down due to the oppressive heat.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Chirping Birds Greet Early-Morning Risers

Do you hear the birds chirping in the middle of the night? I do. The birds began chirping shortly after 3 o'clock this morning. Yes, it happens every May. The birds are chirping their melodious songs in the middle of the night. Although sunrise is a few hours away, the birds are already in midday form.

Hearing the birds chirping loudly at that hour is nothing short of shocking. Obviously, the days are getting longer, but is that the only reason the birds are up so early in the morning this time of the year? My curiosity got the better of me. I just had to find out.

No doubt you’ve heard the old adage about the early bird catching the worm, but there had to be more to it than that. Our morning director was also curious as to why she heard the birds on her way to work, too. So, she consulted Yahoo Answers for a possible explanation. “The birds chirp and sing to communicate,” it states. “What you may not know is that, with few exceptions, it is the males that are doing all the chirping and singing. They chirp and sing to attract a mate and to announce their territory.”

But why are they chirping in the middle of the night? “Each day, as soon as possible, the males want to make sure that everyone knows that they are alive and well and ready to defend their territory. What is interesting, although it may all sound the same to us, is that there is some evidence suggesting that each bird has its own unique song and other birds know it.”

As for the modern scientific viewpoint, it is devoid of any romantic, religious or aesthetic aspects. It states that the pre-dawn chorus this time of the year signifies the warning signals given by each bird as it announces the re-establishment of its territory for the purpose of courtship, nesting, and food getting. All of these are the fundamental and basic steps to breeding, and the early chorus is just a way to warn other counterparts to keep away from their respective territories.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Rare May Snowstorm Clobbered New England 38 Years Ago

However, it was quite a different story around these parts Monday, May 9, 1977. A storm system brought snow and record-cold temperatures to much of New England on this date 38 years ago. In fact, at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, a trace of snow fell, and the temperature dropped to 37 degrees that morning, establishing a record low for this date. Other than a trace of snow which was reported May 27, 2010, it's the latest Spring day on which any snow has ever fallen in southwestern Connecticut.

The storm was quite shocking for this time of the year. Consider the normal high temperature for May 9 is 65 degrees, and the normal low temperature is 48. Snow in southwestern Connecticut is almost unheard of seven weeks after the Vernal Equinox. The coldest temperature ever recorded this month was 31 degrees on March 10, 1966.

According to the Naugatuck Daily News, "A Spring storm dumped several inches of snow on some parts of Berkshire County in Massachusetts. The area hardest hit by the storm was Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where police reported 10 inches of snow on the ground. Similar amounts were reported in parts of Vermont. Great Barrington police said there 'were about 100 trees down, wires are down, and we've got reports of accidents we can't get to.'"

Residents in the northwestern Connecticut rural communities of Goshen and Cornwall reported unofficial snow depths of up to five inches. The snow began to fall heavily in the Hartford area at the height of the commuter rush, slowing traffic considerably on most roads. The National Weather Service said a deepening area of low pressure over Connecticut produced a variety of weather conditions across Western Connecticut.

I consider myself a local weather history buff, but I honestly don't remember this storm. Special thanks to viewer Ralph Fato for recalling it and bringing it to my attention. It certainly had to be memorable for those who had to dig out of nearly a half-foot of snow in the northwestern corner of the state. I'm sure they were wearing their Winter coats, too, with the mercury plunging into the 30s.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Full Flower Moon Happens Late This Evening

Full20moonThe Full Flower Moon takes place late this evening at 11:42 p.m. EDT. Skies were partly cloudy this afternoon, so we should get a very good view of the May Full Moon. It will be a fitting ending to a nearly-spectacular weekend across southwestern Connecticut. The high temperature this afternoon at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford was 73 degrees.

In most areas, flowers are abundant everywhere during this time. That’s how the Full Moon in May became known as the Flower Moon. Other names include the Corn Planting Moon or the Milk 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.

A Full Moon rises at about the same time the Sun is setting. Since the length of daylight continues to grow each day through the Summer Solstice, a Full Moon will rise later and set earlier in May and June. In addition, the Full Moon will appear lower in the sky since it won’t be visible nearly as long as during the long Winter nights. That’s because the Full Moon is a lunar phase which occurs when the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Beautiful Day for Hike at Devil's Den in Weston

My older son and I took a scenic hike through Devil's Den in Weston this afternoon. It is simply beautiful. Devil's Den was created to protect the plants and animals within its borders, but also to allow people to enjoy them. Visitors are welcome to hike, bird watch, and take photos. Trails are open from sunrise to sunset.


Friday, May 1, 2015

May Brings Longer & Brighter Days

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 May 1 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 Sunday, May 3, at 11:42 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!


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Warmest Day of the Year

Today was the warmest day of the year. The temperature climbed to 76 degrees at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford at 2:47 p.m. That broke the previous high of 75 degrees on April 18. I took these photos at different times during the day. It was a beautiful Spring day in southwestern Connecticut.