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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gazing Into the Magic Snowglobe

Gazing Into the Magic Snowglobe:
Weather experts and locals make the call for Xmas Day
(Posted on seven local AOL sites 12/17)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield County, CT – Come Christmas Day, will Fairfield County residents be dashing through the snow or sunning on the back deck? Patch polled a local meteorologist for his holiday weather prediction, prodded area residents about their preferences and checked the weather archives for historical nuggets.

When asked if we’ll have snow on the ground come Christmas morning, Paul Piorek, a lifelong Fairfield resident and 22-year News 12 weather anchor, cited climatology records kept over a 40-year period. He anticipated, “Shoreline communities like Stamford, Darien, Stratford and Milford have a 30% chance of seeing at least one inch of snow on the ground by Dec. 25. There’s a 10% chance of at least five inches by then, but zero percent chance of having ten inches of snow or more by Christmas morning.”

“Inland,” said Piorek, “the odds are more favorable. People living north of the Merritt or Wilbur Cross Parkways have a 57% chance of at least one inch of snow for Christmas. The odds are 23% for five inches of snow but very slim (3%) for at least ten inches of snow. However, residents in towns like Wilton, Redding and Easton will have a much better opportunity of seeing snow on the ground than their shoreline counterparts.”

A look at Christmas Day weather stats for the Greater New York metro area kept over more than 125 years show some trivia tidbits that you can share with friends and family over your holiday feast. Among these, 1909 takes the Snowiest title with seven inches, 2002 tops the Wettest list with 1.30” (snow’s liquid equivalent) and 1980 takes honors for the Coldest Lows with a bone chilling -1 degree. On the flip side, the years 1889 and 1982 tie for Warmest Highs with a balmy 64 degrees.

A storm that many area residents over the age of 50 remember is the Christmas Eve storm of 1966, when over a half-foot of snow made roads quite slippery and travel very difficult. A more recent snow event occurred Christmas Day 2002. It began with light drifts but became steadier and heavier throughout the day. Snow totals by day’s end were impressive with 9.5” in Redding, 9.2” in New Canaan, 7” in Norwalk and Greenwich, and 6.5” in Westport.

Conversely, 2006’s December holiday was a break-out-the-Bermuda shorts period with temps hovering between 44 and 58 degrees in the Dec. 23-26 span, well above the 38-degree norm. To boot, over a quarter inch of rain was recorded Christmas Day.

Polled about their preferences for snow on Dec. 25, locals were consistently agreed that snow definitely made the holiday.

“I prefer to have a light snowfall on Christmas morning,” said Pam Murphy, 44, of Fairfield, “and there’s no more beautiful town than Fairfield with a light dusting of snow. It’s like a winter wonderland!”

Callie Dixon-Weekes, 24, of Norwalk, said, “I love seeing snow on Christmas. I think it’s part of the tradition and brings out the beauty in the world. It makes it fun for the kids, too. I hope I get to make some snow angels with my daughter, Lily, who’s 3 ½. She’s so excited this year and making her list for Santa.”

Stamford resident Veronica Pasternak, 31, agreed with Dixon-Weekes. “I love to see snow on Christmas. If it’s going to be cold with hot chocolate and presents, you might as well complete the package… and it gives you a reason to go out and play. It just makes the holiday.”