Category Archives: Weather

Slicing Up Local Radar

Josh Stein is an alert “06880” reader, and frequent commenter.

He is not, he emphasizes, a weather expert. But after years trying to track storms — without finding local radar imagery — he writes:

If you look at the radar from station OKX (Upton, New York) on any radar website or app during a storm, you will see that a slice covering our area is missing. Here is an example from the most recent storm:

Westport is smack in the middle of the radar “slice.”

On a Reddit thread, someone asked about the slice. Someone else replied: “Google reveals a water tower and smoke stack to the NW of the radar dome which could be the cause.”

If you look at the radar tower on Google satellite images, you will see it. You can follow the angle to see a water tower structure nearby, blocking it.

There are also smokestacks somewhere in between. But my guess is the water tower is the issue.

Composite radar pieces together radar from multiple stations (e.g. Boston, Philadelphia, Binghamton, Albany and New York City, aka OKX). That is why you likely do not see the slice if you are watching the news or looking at a composite map (but I have seen the slice on TV many times).

However, composite view may not be the best source of data. For example, on Sunday night when there was rotation indicated while the storm was coming towards us (but still in Westchester), I could see the potential cell on the OKX radar but not on the composite view.

If I looked at any of those other radar stations (Boston, Philly, Binghamton, Albany) I could not see anything useful — most likely because Westport is out or range, or right on the outskirts of what they can reach. Meteorologists may have different tools at their disposal.

Perhaps another “06880” reader is more of an expert. Perhaps it’s not a big deal for Westport, because a storm approaching can still be seen while over, say, Stamford, Darien or Norwalk. Maybe it’s a bigger deal for warning Fairfield and Bridgeport?

But missing a piece of the puzzle may also hamper historical reviews when there is a possible tornado.

Again, I’m no expert. Still, I think this is worth exploring.

Tornado?

Sunny Sherman asks:

Do you know anything about a tornado hitting Saugatuck Shores last night around 9?

How else to explain a 220-pound teak table blowing off a 2nd floor deck into a pine tree about 25 feet off the ground?!

Teak table in the trees. (Photo/Sunny Sherman)

There are no official reports of a tornado — though a tornado warning was issued for southern Fairfield County during that time.

Strong winds and heavy rain knocked out power to more than 30,000 Eversource customers statewide.

Roseville Road is closed in its entirety due to downed wires. So is Coleytown Road, near #6.

At 7 a.m., that included 878 customers in Westport, and 887 in Weston — 7 and 22% of all customers in those towns, respectively. Those were the highest numbers in the state, behind Darien and Norwalk.

Among the customers without power: the “06880” office (aka “my home”). Eversource had no estimate of when it would be restored.

Isaias: Lessons Learned

Next month (November 9, 6 p.m., online), the Westport Emergency Management Team will discuss its response to Tropical Isaias.

Meanwhile, a 15-page report on the storm and its aftermath has been posted on the town website.

It’s a fascinating document. From acknowledging the unique challenges of responding to a major weather event during a pandemic, to statistics on the thousands of phone calls and incident reports that poured in to first responders, and nuggets like the importance of hiring a retired Eversource engineer (and Westport resident) to lend expertise, the report is a blueprint for what went right during the August storm.

And what did not go so well.

Several days after Isaias, this was still the scene on Charcoal Hill Road. (Photo/Pat Blaufuss)

The document summarizes challenges, including staffing, technology, data and reporting, call dispatching, WiFi and charging stations.

It concludes with “Lessons Learned.” They include:

  • The importance of flexibility. For example, Westport planned for a flood event. Isaias’ damage came mainly from wind.
  • Anticipating that technology will fail. Downed wires and power outages rendered cell phones inoperable. Backup plans are always needed.
  • The importance of advertising Staples High School radio station WWPT (90.3 FM) as a resource, and reminding residents to have a radio at home — with batteries.
  • Aggressive tree pruning and removal “should be more seriously considered.”
  • Continued participation in regional emergency response drills. These simulate multiple simultaneous crises, and encourage creative solutions.
  • Nixle “is best used for short concise emergency notifications.”
  • The Police Department is acquiring more emergency signs.

Cones — not signs — confounded drivers on Post Road West. (Photo/Leah Nash)

Among the specific recommendations:

  • Developing a plan for technology failure — specifically, internet issues.
  • Improving senior-level communications and relationships with Eversource, cable and telephone utilities, and especially internet and wireless carriers.
  • Continuing to urge residents and businesses to sign up for town news, and follow the town on social media.
  • Establishing a town-wide mailing with emergency and preparedness information.
  • Establishing an annual plan for community preparedness educaiton.
  • Sending all department supervisors — not just Fire Department personnel — to national emergency training.
  • Developing a shared Excel file for tracking and coordinating road closures and downed wires, between departments.
  • Updating the Local Emergency Operation Plan, and dedicating time for all departments to train.
  • Investing in minor technical improvements to WWPT-FM.
  • Closing all Parks and Recreation facilities immediately upon advice of incoming storms, and reopening them only after each location has been deemed safe.

Click here for the full Emergency Management Team Isaias after-action report.

(The Emergency Management Team meeting on November 9 will be livestreamed on www.westportct.gov, and broadcast on Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020. Members of the public may submit questions and comments to webmaster@westportct.gov with the subject line “Storm Isaias After-Action Meeting” before November 9. Relevant uestions and comments received during the public comment portion of the meeting will be read aloud.)

It took a while for utility crews to arrive in Westport. The post-Isaias report recommends better communication with utilities and technology companies. (Photo/Peter Nussbaum)

Roundup: Munchkins, Drugs, Halloween, More


Hey, Westport kids (age 5 to 13 ). If you’ve wanted to be in an amazing Staples Players production, here’s your chance!

Players’ radio theatre kicks off with “The Wizard of Oz” this Sunday (October 25, 6 p.m.) — and they want to hear your best munchkin voice.

Send a recording of you saying “follow the yellow brick road!” (munchkin-style). Players’ senior officers will pick 5 winners. Those recordings will be played on air during the live “Wizard of Oz” broadcast. (Click here for details.)

Winners also receive a $10 gift card to Saugatuck Sweets.

Click here, then click the blue “Submit Recording for Munchkin” button to upload your file. Include your name and phone number in the recording. The deadline is 6 p.m. Friday (October 23).

Need inspiration? Click below.


This Saturday (October 24) is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

You can celebrate with the Westport Police Department. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., they’ll be at the Senior Center collecting unused and/or outdated pills and patches. Vape pens are okay if the batteries can be removed.

If the vape pen battery cannot be removed, try an electronics chain store. Also not accepted on Saturday: liquids, needles and sharps.

The service is free and anonymous — no questions asked. For more information, click here.

PS: A year-round collection bin is located in the lobby of Westport Police headquarters. Prescription drugs can be properly disposed of there at any time.


The good news is: This Saturday  (October 24) over 100 Westport kids will take part in the 10th annual Window Painting Contest. They’ll vie for prizes in 3 categories: Scariest Artwork, Best Halloween Theme, and Most Original.

The more good news; 48 businesses all around town — shops, restaurants, services, delis, fitness centers and more — have offered up their windows.

The bad news: That’s not enough. The sponsoring Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce needs at least 20 more, to fill the demand.

They plead: Please donate your business window! You’ll do the town a service. In fact, it will be the perfect Halloween “treat.” Click here to register your window.


This Saturday (October 24), the United Nations turns 75 years old.

For over 50 of those years, Westport has celebrated that birthday with colorful flags. They fly every UN Day on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. That’s fitting: its namesake founded by the local United Nations Association, and Westport’s’ UN International Hospitality Committee.

On Saturday (11 a.m., Town Hall front steps), a public ceremony marks United Nations Day. First Selectman Jim Marpe, Hospitality Committee vice chair Bill Hass, and Staples High School Model UN president Lucas Slater and vice president Aidan Rogers will speak.

Special guest speaker Aye Aye Thant will discuss the importance of the UN. She should know: The Westport resident’s father is former UN Secretary General U Thant.

After the event, a bipartisan expression of support for the UN takes place at the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. Marpe and local legislators will gather near the flags of UN member countries — which have flown there proudly, for decades.

(Photo/Jeff Simon)

Mike Burns spotted this sign on Compo Road South, near Longshore.

Finally, a candidate we can all agree on!


The Westport Public Schools’ guiding principles include social and emotional awareness, sincere kindness, principled thoughts and actions, and constant learning.

Several students have been selected, for embodying those principles. They are Caroline Caggiano, James Dobin Smith, Rachel Greenberg, Colin Konstanty, Natalia Maidique and Kyla Race.

Congratulations to all!

Three honorees (from left): James Dobin-Smith, Colin Konstanty, Caroline Caggiano.


How foggy was it last night? Very, as Andrew Colabella’s shot of the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge shows:

And finally … in honor of Staples Players’ “Wizard of Oz” radio broadcast (see story above):

 

 

Pic Of The Day #1280

Ford Road, this afternoon (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Roundup: CVS, Mistletoes & Margaritas, More


Bob Weingarten is frustrated. He writes:

Yesterday around 9:40 a.m., I called CVS pharmacy. It took them more than 53  minutes to answer.

At about the 45-minute mark I called their customer service (800-746-7287) to complain. They answered within 30 seconds. After I explained the issue, they tried to call the Westport CVS — but could not get through.

They send a note to the store manager, and told me he would answer me within 2 to 4 hours.

Not sure if other readers have had this problem, but I believe they have. When standing in line to pick up a prescription, I always hear calls are “waiting to be answered.”


Friday’s rain was heavy. For most Westporters, it was a minor inconvenience.

For residents of Saugatuck Shores though, it was the usual story: flooding.

Here’s a shot of Canal Road, at midday:

(Photo/Gene Borio)


Adam’s House is based in Shelton. But the organization — which helps youngsters grieving the loss of a loved one — has a strong local presence.

It was started by Allison Wysota. Her husband Adam died suddenly in 2012, when their 3 boys were in Weston schools.

Adam’s House is launching a “Mistletoes & Margaritas” online shopping fundraiser. It will be live November 30.

Area businesses are invited to join the e-commerce site. Bill Taibe is participating as a sponsor/vendor. He will sell gift certificates, and may do a bartending event with Don Memo.

Clem Butt, who sells wines all over Westport, will do a virtual wine-tasting. Jim VElgot will sell his artwork. Adam’s House volunteers hope many more Westport shops, restaurants, artists and others will offer their goods and services too.

Click here for the “Mistletoes and Margaritas” website.


And finally … Esperanza Spalding turns 36 today.

 

Wild Weather

The sun is out now, and the forecast is great.

But at 10:40 this morning, Sunny Sherman spotted this, from Saugatuck Shores.

Sunny’s husband, Guy Sherman, says they were just east of Sprite Island, west of the lighthouse. He caught this view:

“Crazy!” the delightfully named Sunny says.

“It didn’t last long, nor make its way across the Sound, thank God. Have a beautiful day!”

Pic Of The Day #1252

The Saugatuck River and Riverside Avenue last week, framed by smoke from wildfires 3,000 miles away. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

[OPINION] Chop Down Current Tree Law

In the wake of last month’s storms — Isaias and an unnamed one that caused massive damage — many Westporters learned that if a neighbor’s tree lands on your property (or house), and you have not warned him or her about the danger, you are responsible for removing it.

And for repairing any damage on your property.

Alert — and concerned — “06880” reader Marliese Aguele writes:

The law that requires a neighbor to remove and pay for a fallen tree is most unfair. It puts the burden and expense on somebody else.

No more free rides. I wanat the law be changed immediately. Owners make no effort to pay, or offer any help. This is unacceptable to a neighbor, who takes care by trimming his own trees.

Because residents know they are not liable to pay for the removal of their fallen trees on the neighbor’s property, they have no incentive to take care of them.

Falling trees do not respect property lines.(Photo/John Kantor)

I have had personal experience. A friend lives in a small house near the beach, with a neighbor located on an elevated property behind him. She has refused for over 20 years to trim her tree. It gets larger every year. He is struggling financially. He constantly worries that should the huge tree fall, his house and cars will be destroyed, and maybe the lives of his family.

A property owner must be responsible to trim his trees regularly to avoid unfair arboreal problems, making it easier for the town to deal with overgrown branches entangled in communication and electric power lines, incurring major expenses to the town and heavy losses to its citizens.

With predictions of more frequent storms in the future, it is in the best interest for citizens to do their share, helping with an already stressed town budget.

I have decided, at great expense, to have several tall trees removed. I can no longer live with the fear, and alone, worrying if my trees should fall and destroy my home, or were to fall on a neighbor’s house.

It is time to change the law. Someone who owns a tree should be responsible for removing the debris, and pay for all damage caused to a neighbor’s property.

Roundup: Old Dominion, The Sun And The Moon, More


COVID kept the live audience away from last night’s 55th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

But a nationwide television audience watched Old Dominion walk off with 2 huge awards: Best Group and Best Song (“One Man Band”).

Country music may not be huge in Westport. But we’re hugely proud of Old Dominion. Lead guitarist Brad Tursi is a 1997 graduate of Staples High School, where he was known not as a musician, but as a soccer star. He’s in the far right in the clip below, wearing a flannel shirt.  (Hat tip: Claudia Bradley)

He’s the first musician shown, in the official “One Man Band” video too:


Staples High School sophomore Phoebe Miller took this picture yesterday evening. She says that smoke from the wildfires out west has drifted far east. It blocks the sun’s rays, making it appear much larger and more orange than usual.

(Photo/Phoebe Miller)


This news will brighten your day:

International Observe the Moon Night will be celebrated in Westport (and everywhere) on Saturday, September 26. The Westport Astronomical Society says the annual worldwide public event “encourages observation and appreciation of the moon.

“All are invited to observe the moon, learn about NASA planetary science and exploration, and celebrate cultural and personal connections to our nearest neighbor. All you need to do is look up!

This year the moon will be just past 1st quarter – a great phase for evening observation.

If the skies are clear, the WAS will open the dome to its observatory on Bayberry Lane. Telescopes will be available.

The WAS adds: “The giant satellite has been our constant companion for 4.5 billion years, and viewed by every human who ever walked the Earth. It’s one of the solar systems’ most remarkable objects, and is quite likely a major reason that life even exists on our planet.”

Amazing full moon at Compo Beach (Photo/Michael Tomashefsky)


Seen at Compo Beach. Beware!

(Photo/Les Dinkin)


Crank up The Machine!

The final Supper & Soul drive-in concert of 2020 features The Machine — a longtime internationally touring Pink Floyd-style band. The event — co-sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Westport Library — is set for Saturday, October 3 (7 p.m., Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Tickets for the always-popular event are $150 per car (5-person maximum. They go on sale tomorrow (Friday, September 18) at 10 a.m. Click here to purchase.


And finally … in honor of International Observe the Moon Night (see above):