*** Paul Piorek is editor and publisher of Paul's Local Weather Journal for southwestern Connecticut ... Paul is the on-air meteorologist at WICC 600 AM and 107.3 FM ... 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 TV Weathercast (2006, 2008, 2009, 2012) ... Paul was voted Best Local Television Personality by the readers of Fairfield County Weekly Magazine (2012) ... Paul was inducted into the Housatonic Community College Hall of Fame and received the Distinguished Alumni Award (2012) ... The local weather journal is a two-time winner of the Communicator Award of Distinction (2012 & 2013) ... Paul is currently a full-time teacher of Earth Science and Mathematics in Fairfield ... Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulPiorek ... Follow Paul on WxSocial at https://wxsocial.app/user/paulpiorek/

Saturday, September 23, 2023

This Week Marks 38th Anniversary of Hurricane Gloria's Arrival to Southwestern Connecticut

Thirty-eight years ago this week Hurricane Gloria was about to deliver strong winds, massive power outages, and heavy rain to southwestern Connecticut. Area residents were well-prepared for the hurricane, which caused significant damage and destruction to the Northeast.

I was a rookie educator at the time, having just secured my first position as a seventh grade teacher in a self-contained classroom at a private school in New Haven. Weather was my passion, naturally, and I was able to share my excitement at the upcoming storm. Just three weeks into the profession, I received a week's vacation unexpectedly.

I was also a weekend newscaster and disc jockey at WMMM radio in Westport. I received a phone call from program director Gary Zenobia just after I returned home from school on Thursday afternoon requesting that I host an overnight newscast to inform our listeners about the impending storm and emergency measures which may have to be taken. WMMM was a daytime-only station, meaning it was on the air during daylight hours and signed off at sunset, but this time it was granted an exception by the Federal Communications Commission.

As my family was applying duct tape to picture windows, securing lawn furniture, stocking up on non-perishable food, and checking batteries for flashlights and portable radios, I was packing a bag for my overnight stay at the radio station. We had a few reporters "on location" at various shelters throughout town, and then-First Selectman William Seiden joined me on the air most of the night to reassure listeners that their safety was our primary concern.

The overnight hours were anxious moments for all of us as we awaited the arrival of the storm. Local shelters began to fill up quickly, and I remember answering the telephone every couple of minutes from town residents who were sharing their concerns and fears. Gloria struck quickly and furiously. The hurricane hit New York and Connecticut as a moderate hurricane early the next day. At the time of landfall on Long Island, Gloria had sustained winds of 85 miles per hour, while rapidly moving forward at 35 miles per hour.

This combination of sustained winds and rapid forward motion produced major hurricane conditions and gusts to 115 mph across a narrow area of Eastern Long Island, New York. Although Gloria was not a major hurricane when it struck Connecticut, it was still the most damaging hurricane to strike the state since Carol in 1954. The rain began overnight, and before long the winds became a serious matter.

As the morning wore on, Gloria continued to accelerate northward off the Eastern seaboard, brushing the coastlines of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey with hurricane-force gusts. Later that morning, Gloria finally crossed the coast of the United States mainland near western Long Island about 10-miles East of Kennedy International Airport. Passing over central Long Island, Gloria crossed the Connecticut coast near Bridgeport about 40 minutes later with sustained winds of 80 mph. By that time, I was already home, but there was no way I was going to go to sleep.

I vividly remember the eye of the hurricane passing almost directly overhead by midday. That's when the skies cleared, the winds calmed dramatically, and the damage was plainly visible. Downed trees, power lines, and debris scattered just about everywhere greeted us as we stepped outside. Naturally, the power was out, too, and we remained "in the dark" for almost six days. Needless to say, I didn't have to worry about any lesson plans for quite awhile.

There were very few wind reports near the area of landfall in New York and Connecticut due to the complete evacuation of Coast Guard personnel from stations across the region. The strongest official wind gust recorded on Long Island was 84 mph at Islip. In Connecticut, the National Weather Service at Sikorsky Airport in Stratford recorded sustained winds of 74 mph with a gust to 92 mph.

A barometric pressure of 28.37 inches was measured by aircraft when Gloria crossed Long Island. The National Weather Service at Kennedy International Airport recorded a minimum pressure of 28.57 inches, while Sikorsky Airport in Bridgeport, Connecticut, recorded a low pressure of 28.47 inches. This was the lowest barometric pressure recorded in Connecticut and New York since Donna in 1960, 25 years earlier.

Gloria produced weak Category Two hurricane conditions across southwestern Connecticut. The storm continued to lose intensity as it passed over Long Island. Peak wind gusts in south-central and southeastern Connecticut were close to 95 mph as the tropical cyclone swept over the region. The metropolitan New Haven area was hit with wind gusts of 90 mph and heavy rain. There were only a few reports of minimal structural damage in southwestern Connecticut. Tree damage in Connecticut was heavy within 10 to 20 miles of the coast, and along the coast from around Bridgeport to New London.

By late Friday afternoon, the storm was long gone, but the cleanup was just staring. Since the power was out, my family and I headed to nearby Bridgeport to have dinner at a restaurant which was operating on emergency generators. I still think of Gloria whenever I drive past that restaurant. In fact, I still have my framed certificate from Mr. Seiden thanking me for my service to Westport. It was a storm I'll never forget.


Saturday, September 9, 2023

"Marginal" Risk for Severe Thunderstorms North and West of the Region Through This Evening


Thursday, September 7, 2023

Record High Temperature of 92 Degrees Established at Bridgeport Today


Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Recalling Hanna 15 Years Ago

Today marks 15 years since the arrival of Hanna. The storm came and went fairly quickly Saturday, September 6, 2008, delivering more than three inches of rain at Sikorsky Memorial Airport, scattered power outages, and gusty winds. It could have been a lot worse, but the storm raced through the region, arriving late Saturday afternoon and exiting during the early morning hours Sunday, September 7.

The storm brought a peak wind gust of 39 miles-an-hour and a peak wind speed of 30 miles-an-hour, sparing southwestern Connecticut any damaging or destructive winds. Perhaps the most memorable aspect of the storm was the brutal tropical humidity throughout the day, ultimately leading to the heavy downpours by late-afternoon through the evening hours.

The heaviest rain fell to our North, with parts of Northern Fairfield County receiving over a half-foot of rain. Remember, the average normal rainfall for September is 3.58 inches. 

The bands of heavy rain made traveling difficult at times, and some roadways were flooded. Mackenize Kilmartin of Fairfield sent the following photo showing minor flooding in her hometown.

Christine from Greenwich wrote, "Here are pictures from Todd's Point and Binney Park. Sorry if they're not great photos, but it was the best I could do without getting my camera wet."



Local residents sent the following photo of flooding on Shippan Avenue at the West Beach soccer fields under construction in Stamford. This picture was taken at 7:30 Saturday evening.


Here are some of the unofficial rainfall totals from across southwestern Connecticut from Hanna's visit:
  • Woodbridge: 5.04"
  • Norwalk: 4.37"
  • Fairfield: 4.13"
  • Greenwich: 3.93"
  • Stamford: 3.62"
  • Stratford: 3.55"
  • Milford: 3.42"
  • Bridgeport: 3.30"
The storm followed the forecast track for the most part, with the eye of the storm passing just to our East late Saturday evening and moving well to our North and East by the end of the weekend. The skies cleared quickly the following day. 


Saturday, September 2, 2023

Cooler-Than-Normal August Offered Average Rainfall Across Southwestern Connecticut

August was cooler-than-normal across southwestern Connecticut, while the nearly-four-inch precipitation was just about average for the eighth month of the year.

The average temperature at the Bridgeport climate station for August was 73.1 degrees, which is 1.4 degrees below normal. Believe it or not, the mercury did not reach 90 degrees at all. The warmest temperature of 89 degrees happened August 13, while the coolest reading of 59 degrees occurred August 2.

Nine of the first 12 days of the month featured an average temperature at or below normal, while 12 of the last 17 days of the month were cooler-than-normal. The average daytime high temperature was 79.9 degrees, while the average nighttime low was 66.3 degrees.

The monthly rainfall total of 3.92" was just 0.06" below normal. Twelve of the 31 days featured measured rain. The greatest 24-hour precipitation of 1.13" happened August 14 and 15. The greatest one-day total of 1.13" happened August 15. Three days later, August 18, nearly one-inch (0.85") fell, producing two-plus inches of rain in a four-day stretch.

Nine days produced more than one-tenth of an inch of rain, three days delivered at least a half-inch, and one day offered at least one inch.


Saturday, August 26, 2023

Marking the 12-Year Anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene

Tropical Storm Irene hit the region 12 years ago today, and it will long be remembered by residents of southwestern Connecticut for the number of lives it affected. According to Mitch Gross, a spokesman for Connecticut Light and Power, more than 700,000 customers were without power Sunday, August 28, 2011, easily breaking the previous record of 480,000 following Hurricane Gloria in September of 1985. In fact, 98% of Redding and 89% of Weston households were without power on Monday, August 29, 2011.

The shoreline was hit the hardest, especially during the storm surge during the time of high tide late Sunday morning, August 28. Several homes collapsed along the beach in Fairfield, and many residents had to be evacuated due to the flooding. There were 35 streets which were under mandatory evacuation. This is an outstanding time lapse taken during Tropical Storm Irene. Ralph Fato installed a camera by the water in New Rochelle, NY. The camera was 15 feet higher than the bottom of the pond. You will be amazed at this video.

Ralph sent the following photos of Cove Island Park in Stamford, where the water level was 15 feet above normal. The beach is actually a quarter-mile away. The center of the storm passed through southwestern Connecticut late Sunday morning, August 28, just about the time of high tide, which was 11:10 a.m. in Bridgeport. To make matters worse, tides were astronomically high due to the new Moon. The beach is actually a quarter-mile away.




Although the storm's effects would be felt for quite some time, it could have been much worse. The highest wind gust reported in the region was 63 miles an hour at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford just before daybreak. The highest wind speed was 46 miles an hour, and the average wind speed was 24.9 miles an hour. Fortunately, winds never reached hurricane force, but that certainly was little consequence to the thousands of people who were without power or who suffered damage from Irene.

Rainfall totals ranged from just over three inches to more than a half-foot in Northern Fairfield County. Officially, the Sikorsky Airport set a record of 2.50 inches, bringing the two-day storm total to 3.35 inches. That's not far from the monthly average of 3.75 inches. Here are four more photos from Ralph taken at Cove Island Park.





Thus far this year, the Atlantic tropical season has been fairly quiet. However, that was not the case two years ago today.