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, 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!