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, 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.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Weather Jingles Appeared in Newspaper 53 Years Ago Today

Here's a neat find I came across while looking through my daily weather record book this morning. The Bridgeport Post ran a feature called Haskin's Answers, which appeared 53 years ago today, Tuesday, April 24, 1962. A reader could get an answer or two to any question by writing to the newspaper's information bureau and enclosing a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

The reader wrote, "Please give the jingle about the weather in various months that starts, 'January snowy.'" Quite frankly, I never heard of such a jingle, but apparently Haskin did.

Here is the reply: "January snowy; February flowy; March blowy; April show'ry; May flow'ry; June bow'ry; July moppy; August croppy; September poppy; October breezy; November wheezy; December freezy."

Another weather jingle is "Autumn --- wheezy, sneezy, freezy; Winter --- slippy, drippy, nippy; Spring --- showery, flowery, bowery; Summer --- hoppy, croppy, poppy."

Have you ever heard of these jingles? It's interesting to find something like this after all these years. Click on the article to see an enlarged version.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Record Daily Rainfall Happened Nine Years Ago Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Celebrate Earth Day

Tomorrow is Earth Day, which was first observed 45 years ago on the same date in 1970. There's no question we've become better stewards of our planet over the last four decades. Earth Day founder Senator Gaylord Nelson passed away in July of 2005 at the age of 89. He believed strongly that education is the key to changing people’s attitudes about the environment, and he devoted much of his time and energy to that challenge.

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

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

So, how have things changed in the last 45 years? Certainly, we’ve become more aware of the need to take better care of our planet. Many imporant laws were passed in the wake of the first Earth Day, including the Clean Air Act, and laws to protect water, wild lands, and the ocean. The Environmental Protection Agency was created within three years of the first Earth Day.

Personally, I’ve seen a dramatic change over the last 45 years. What I clearly remember as a child is taking a weekly pilgrimage with my Dad every Saturday afternoon to the town dump. Dad loaded the family car with all kinds of debris and junk from the basement, and we followed the dirt path, greeted the seagulls, and dumped everything at the landfill. The garbage was simply buried. Today, our garbage is turned into electricity or, in some cases, steam.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Powerful Nor'easter Hammered Region Eight Years Ago Today

A powerful Nor'easter hammered the region eight years ago today, Sunday, April 15, 2007, causing widespread flooding, damage, and destruction to many homes and businesses across southwestern Connecticut. My basement was a disaster area, and the sight of water pouring into the cellar through the walls was alarming. Many local communities received well over a half-foot of rain in one day, including an incredible 7.50 inches in Weston.

Our viewers became an active part of the News 12 Connecticut weather team with their weather observations, comments, and photos. They always came through for us in major storms, and that day was no exception. Geoff Wood of Darien sent the adjacent photo of his home on Crimmins Road in Darien. "For us, this is the second time we have been flooded out of our house in six weeks," he wrote. Many people shared his pain.


Perhaps no picture better illustrates the destruction of the Nor'easter better than this one. Viewer Donna Dutko sent this photo of "the little pink antique store at the corner of Route 7 and Branchville Station." As you can see, the store collapsed from the force of the water and was partially submerged. The water was almost up to the railroad tracks, too.


Judy Callirgos of Redding sent many photos of the flooding on her street, in her yard, and around her home. "I live on the Saugatuck and my house was truly an island yesterday," she wrote. "I had to create a dam at the end of my driveway to divert the water." Redding also received over a half-foot of rain, leading to flooding problems throughout town.


Cynthia Zizzi of the Cos Cob section of Greenwich sent several photos along upper Valley Road in North Mianus. Cynthia wrote, "Paul, I walk my dog, Dodger, a golden retriever, every day weather permitting, and these are some of my favorite views. The best is the old foundation. I believe it was an old home or could have been part of the woolen mill that burned in 1938."


Sheridan Black of Milford forwarded some photos from Bayview Beach of waves crashing against homes along the shoreline. She wrote, "Last night (Sunday night), I decided to stay the night at my beach house with my aunt and uncle. The whole road was flooded and the water came right up to the deck. The water is usually 30 feet away from the house, and now, if I wanted to, I could stand on the deck and touch it."


Stamford recorded nearly seven inches of rain (6.84"), causing massive flooding of roads and headaches for motorists. Martin Silverman told of "the extreme road conditions at the intersection of High Ridge Road and Wire Mill." Notice the plow attempting to push the standing water off High Ridge Road near the Merritt Parkway. I've heard many stories from motorists who had to find alternate routes or who were stranded on flooded roads during the height of the flooding.


Darien received nearly a half-foot of rain (5.93"). Richard Miller took this photo of Hoyt Street Sunday afternoon, April 15, at 4 o'clock. He jokingly wrote, "I thought I would share this with you before we go for a lap swim." As you can see, driving was dangerous just about everywhere.


New Canaan was another community which received nearly a half-foot of rain (5.40"). John Festo sent us several pictures of Mill Pond overflowing its banks. It almost looks as though the force of the raging water is about to cover the bridge and send it sailing downstream. Also, the banks of the river were already flooded.


The view from Fairfield Beach was wet and windy. Kathy wrote, "This is a view of my backyard. I live one block from Fairfield Beach on Reef Road. My yard is flooded from the rain only, and now we are waiting for high tide to see if we need to evacuate. It was so windy we could lean into the wind, and it held us up." Fairfield was one of the communities which received well over a half-foot of rain (6.55") in one day.


I'm sure you'll never forget the Nor'easter of Sunday, April 15, 2007. I know I won't.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Beautiful Sunday in April

Today is the best day of the year, by far! It's sunny, pleasant, and gorgeous. I took a Sunday afternoon drive along Cross Highway in Fairfield and met a few new friends along the way. I took each of these photos.

The high temperature this afternoon at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford was 60 degrees at 2:51 p.m., tying the high temperature yesterday for the two warmest days of the year.


Friday, April 10, 2015

April Snowstorm 19 Years Ago Today Capped Snowiest Season on Record

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

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


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

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

Consider that the normal average snowfall for southwestern Connecticut for the month of April is only 0.9″ based on 40 years of record-keeping, and the normal average Winter snowfall is about 26.3 inches. Today, though, will begin on a wet and chilly note. Pack the rain gear for one more day before a much nicer weekend arrives..


Monday, April 6, 2015

Today Marks 33rd Anniversary of Snowiest April Day on Record

Desmond snow sketch Today marks the 33rd anniversary of the snowiest April day on record in southwestern Connecticut. Take a look out the window today, and it's hard to imagine that exactly a half-foot of snow fell on April 6, 1982. What made the storm even more memorable were the gusty winds and cold temperatures. Record lows of 19, 18, and 23 degrees were established from April 6 through April 8, 1982, respectively, well below the 38-degree normal low temperature for this time of the year.

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


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

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

While the storm of 33 years ago had a mid-Winter look and feel, today will be much quieter across southwestern Connecticut. It will be partly sunny and pleasant with a high temperature well into the 50s. What a far cry from this date in 1982.


Friday, April 3, 2015

March Lion Roared Through Snow & Cold

March came in like a lion and went out ... like a lion! February was the coldest month on record, but March was almost as harsh. In fact, it was much colder and snowier than normal. The average daily temperature last month at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford was 33.9 degrees, which was a whopping 5.4 degrees below normal. In addition, more than a foot-and-a-half (18.6") of snow fell, which was more than three times the 5.1 inch normal for the month. Yes, it was a month that will not soon be forgotten.

Twenty-three of the 31 days in March were colder-than-normal, including seven days which were at least 10 degrees below normal. In fact, there were only five days with an average temperature above normal. Nine of the first ten days last month were at least 10 degrees colder-than-normal, extending a streak which began January 25.

There were 12 days with at least a trace of snow, with the jackpots of 6.2 inches March 1 and 5.3 inches March 20. Four inches of snow fell March 5. Four of the first five days of March featured at least a trace of snow as well as the last four days of the month. The snow depth reached a height of 18 inches March 2 and 6, and it still remained at 12 inches as late as March 10.

The Vernal Equinox snowstorm brought nearly a half-foot of snow to the region for much of Friday, March 20. The snow began just after noon, and continued falling through the Equinox at 6:45 p.m. EDT.

March also had nearly five inches (4.72") of liquid precipitation, well above the 4.05" normal for the month. Seventeen days saw measured precipitation, including the first five days of the month (2.26"). A trace of precipitation was recorded three days, bringing the total number of days last month with at least a trace of precipitation to 20. That's just about two out of every three days!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Total Lunar Eclipse of Full Blood Moon Shortest of the Century

A total lunar eclipse of the Full Blood Moon will take place early Saturday morning. For the third time in less than a year, sky watchers in the United States can see this total eclipse of the Moon. The eclipse begins at 6:16 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time when the edge of the Moon first enters the amber core of Earth’s shadow. For the next hour and 45 minutes, Earth's shadow will move across the lunar disk, ultimately swallowing the entire Moon at 7:58 a.m. EDT.

Unfortunately, we won't be able to see much, if anything. First, clouds and showers are expected to linger into early Saturday morning across southwestern Connecticut. Second, the Moon will set at 6:32 a.m., just 16 minutes after the partial eclipse starts.

The total eclipse is the third of four total lunar eclipses separated by approximately six months, a phenomenon astronomers call a "tetrad." Such a closely-spaced succession of eclipses is a fairly rare occurrence. The complete list of dates is April 15th, 2014; Oct. 8th, 2014; April 4th, 2015; and Sept. 28th, 2015.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April's Arrival Brings Some Degree of Trepidation

I welcome April with some degree of trepidation. Three of the last nine years there have been flooding rains across southwestern Connecticut during this month. Eight years ago, on Sunday, April 15, 2007, over three inches (3.02″) of rain fell in one day at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, causing widespread catastrophic flooding throughout the region. Unofficially, well over a half-foot of rain soaked many communities throughout the area. The rain didn’t let up until the following day, bringing the two-day total to 3.51 inches.

The previous year, on Sunday, April 23, 2006, 5.30″ of rain fell at the airport, highlighting a three-day stretch which saw nearly a half-foot (5.79″) of rain. That capped a stretch of nearly eight inches of rain (7.98″) in a 24-day period. The ground was already saturated prior to the deluge, since six of the first eight days of the month saw measured rain, producing nearly two inches (1.93″) in just over one week.

The average rainfall for April in southwestern Connecticut is 3.99 inches, ranking it third behind March (4.15″) and May (4.03″) as the wettest months of the year. The wettest April on record happened in 1983 when 10.72″ of precipitation was recorded at Sikorsky Memorial Airport. The driest occurred just two years later when only 0.69″ fell in 1985. The most memorable single-day rain events other than April 23, 2007, happened on April 21 of 2000 (3.34″), April 10, 1983 (3.15″), and April 13, 2004 (3.08″).


April is certainly a month of extremes in southwestern Connecticut as temperatures have ranged from a high of 91 degrees on April 28, 1991, to a low of 18 degrees on April 7, 1982. The warmest April on record averaged 56.7 degrees in 1954, while the coldest happened 48 years ago when the average temperature was 43.4 degrees in 1966. The mean temperature climbs from 45 degrees at the start of the month to 54 degrees by April 30.

Snow is not out of the question for April. In fact, a trace of snow has fallen as late as April 28, while a half-foot fell on April 6, 1982, which was Major League Baseball’s Opening Day and forced the postponement of the Yankees’ home debut in New York. The average snowfall for the month is less than an inch (0.09″). You may remember 19 years ago, though, when seven inches of snow fell April 10, 1996, capping the snowiest Winter on record in southwestern Connecticut when 78″ fell along the coast and over 100″ inland.

The length of daylight continues to grow considerably this month. Today's sunrise happens at 6:35, and it rises before 6 o’clock (5:51) at the end of the month. More dramatic, though, is the time of sundown. The Sun sets at 7:18 this evening, but it doesn’t drop below the horizon until 7:49 April 30. Daylight is increasing at the rate of two to three minutes per day in April. Daylight grows from 12 hours and 43 minutes at the start of April to almost 14 hours (13:58) by the end of the month.

Happy April!