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 ...

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!

Paul

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."

Paul

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.

Paul

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.

Found on Newspapers.com

Paul

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.

Found on Newspapers.com

Paul

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!

Paul

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!”

Paul

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.

Hamden_tornado

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.

Paul

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.
Lawn22
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 allaboutlawns.com, 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 allaboutlawns.com, "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.

Paul

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.

Paul

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."

Paul

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!

Paul