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 ...

Friday, January 23, 2015

Recalling the Snowstorm of Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago today, we were digging out from a major Winter storm and dealing with brutally cold wind chills across southwestern Connecticut. The snowstorm of Saturday and Sunday, January 22 and 23, 2005, was one for the record books and will not soon be forgotten.

The snow began falling shortly after lunchtime, Saturday, January 22, and it became steadier and heavier through the afternoon. The cold air was already in place since the mercury dipped to two degrees at daybreak. By later in the day the winds began gusting out of the Northeast, and Arctic cold air had settled into the region. Roads became almost impassable by late-afternoon, and by nightfall the snow was virtually blinding.

A Blizzard Warning was issued by the National Weather Service that day. For at least three hours, the blowing snow reduced visibility to less than a quarter of a mile, and wind gusts were frequently clocked over 35 miles an hour. Adding insult to injury was the wind chill, which fell below zero by nightfall.

By the time Sunday morning, January 23, arrived, the snow had moved away, but the damaging winds and biting cold were here to stay for the time being. Nearly a foot of snow had fallen across southwestern Connecticut. Here are some of the official totals reported by the National Weather Service office:
  • Milford 12.0"
  • Orange 12.0"
  • Darien 10.5"
  • Fairfield 10.3"
  • Norwalk 10.3"
  • Bridgeport 9.5"
  • Greenwich 9.0"
  • Westport 9.0"
  • Stratford 8.0"
Sunday morning's low temperature fell to six degrees above zero at Sikorsky Memorial Airport, but what I most remember about that morning was the howling and downright dangerous winds. Here is a sampling of some of the peak wind gusts from across the region:
  • Orange 53.0 mph (6:39 am)
  • Bridgeport 49.0 mph (6:24 am)
  • Westport 45.0 mph (2:05 pm)
Shoveling the nearly one-foot of snow in those conditions was extremely difficult. I remember taking several breaks that day because the wind was just too strong. The afternoon high temperature only reached 25 degrees, but it certainly felt much colder than that. Another factor was the blowing snow, which reduced visibility even though the skies became clear and sunny for much of the day. The weather made headlines nationwide:

By Sunday evening, roads were extremely icy, and the mercury continued to drop. The low temperature that night fell to five degrees above zero, and the wind continued to howl. It wasn't until later Monday afternoon, January 24, that the wind slowly began to subside and, by the following day, the temperature climbed to a more seasonable 34 degrees.