One Crazy Year: Weather of 2011

As we sit through what seems like one of the more boring winters in Connecticut, at least in a while, my mind drifts back to 2011 and the crazy weather we saw! For weather enthusiasts, 2011 was a year that kept on giving, from record snow, to flooding, a tropical storm and more record snow! If you had to experience all the weather Connecticut offers in a short amount of time, last year was the year to do it! Although most of the big snow storms had already occurred by this time last year, I am still shock at the pure amount we got in January! The month ended up being the snowiest on record in Connecticut as well as in many other parts of New England. The fact that even along the shoreline had close to four feet of snow cover was unimaginable! It was an awe inspiring start to the crazy weather year of 2011. After a few months of quite weather, although the year continued to be wet, parts of the state ran into flooding concerns. One of the local flooding events I remember occurred on August 14, 2011. Here in Milford, it had rained all day, much like the rest of the state. As the evening progressed a line of training thunderstorms slowly moved over the Milford region into the Housatonic valley. In a matter of an hour close to three inches of rain fell on the already saturated ground. The WeatherBug station at Harborside Middle School, in the center of town, ended up registering 7.41 inches of rain for the day! This flooding even led to water bubbling up through the basement floor of the Connecticut Post Mall in Milford! The flash flooding rivaled a flood event from back in 1982, when the Wepawaug River, which runs through the center of Milford, flooded out City Hall and parts of downtown. If this wasn’t exciting enough, there was something bigger looming out in the Atlantic, ready to take siege on the Eastern Seaboard. Her name, Irene. On August 28, 2011, Connecticut was in the middle of an onslaught of wind and rain, bracing for the possibility of the first direct, land falling, hit by a Hurricane since Gloria in 1985. I use the term “lucky” very lightly here because of the damage caused along the coast and the resulting power outages, but the state did dodge a major hurricane and only experienced winds of tropical storm force. However the state was unlucky in that the highest winds and storm surge arrived at high tide, flooding large sections of coastline. Inland didn’t fare much better when it came to a week without power. For the first time since Hurricane Gloria in ’85, the state had more power outages. Who would have thought that just two months later the state would take another hit, this one even worse than Irene! Like clockwork, the extreme year of weather continued into the fall with a freak snow storm on October 29, 2011. The problem with this storm was the huge amounts of snow, cold temperatures and the fact that leaves were not only still on the trees, but many were still green! The combination of heavy wet snow on fully leafed trees, many which were weakened by Irene, resulted in the largest power outage in the state’s history! This new record topped Irene, which was only set two months before. Surprisingly the year ended on a quite note, with above average temperatures. However 2011 was already marked in stone as a record breaker. I only mentioned some specific events of 2011 but let’s not forget the near miss of the Springfield Tornado on June 1, 2011 or the Virginia earthquake (not technically meteorology) that rattled the ground all the way up the eastern seaboard just days before Irene. Yeah 2011 was a pretty amazing year in the weather department! It seems a number of weather events that occurred in Connecticut in 2011 where 20-30 years storms, which just happened to all develop in the same calendar year. Personally, while I enjoy nice warm weather, like any weather enthusiast I always need a storm on the horizon! So let’s hope 2012 isn’t as crazy as 2011 but not as boring as January 2012!

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