Unlocking Winter’s Secrets: A Weatherman’s Take on Snowfall Trends and Predictions for Danbury
I was sitting in a content meeting the other day with my colleagues and they wouldn't stop talking about the weather.
When will it snow? What do you think the Danbury winter will look like? The weather questions just kept coming so I decided to get us some answers. I reached out to I-95 Meteorologist Jack Drake to get his take on winter 2023.
We also wanted to learn more about the science of predicting the weather and what life looks like during a snowstorm, at his house.
Lou: I know it's probably an annoying question but when can we expect the first snowfall of 2023?
Jack: "I ran a social media poll on this back in September. Over 1000 people voted for when the first inch of snowfall would occur. The median date was December 4th, so I’ll go with that."
Lou: Do you ever use weather trends from past seasons to make predictions about what will happen this year? If so, what can we expect?
Jack: "Absolutely, but trends and patterns from the previous winter (or year in general) are only a piece of the puzzle. There’s a lot that goes into a seasonal forecast, and they are low-confidence endeavors. I do tend to find the patterns are a bit cyclical. I think we at least return to normal snowfall this year after a very down year last year."
Lou: Do you know what year the Greater-Danbury area had the highest snowfall totals? If so, when?
Jack: "Winter 1995-1996 had the most snow with about 120 inches (10 feet) recorded in Greater Danbury. Winter 2010-2011 was another more recent big winter with over 60 inches in January alone!"
Lou: What is the heaviest snowfall Danbury has seen in one day?
"This is an interesting one, because the way snow is measured has changed over the years, and the records are imperfect going back a few decades and beyond. Most recently, January 12th, 2011, was our biggest snowfall with 28.0 inches officially recorded in New Fairfield, 27.0 inches in Newtown, and 24.1 inches in Danbury. Historically, there have been a few storms that have broken the 2-foot mark. In my opinion from years of studying records, news articles, and journals, the most snow “on the stick” was probably in February 1934, when close to 3 feet fell upon Greater Danbury. There was also a famous storm on Christmas in 1947 that likely approached or exceeded 30 inches within the city. I spoke with an old-timer a few years ago (he was 95 at the time) who told me that the 1947 storm was the most snow he had ever seen in his entire life. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the famous Blizzard of March 1888. The wind was so strong during that storm that accurate measurement was made impossible, but it is hypothesized that 30 to 40 inches could have fallen in parts of Western CT. There are many famous stories from that storm, which featured a sharp temperature drop and hurricane-force wind gusts. Snow drifts were reported on the second floor of many buildings, and there is a legendary story of a “snow tunnel” having to be cut through Bank Street in New Milford so the horses could get through."
Lou: Do you find the Farmer's Almanac to be reliable?
Jack: "No - yet this caused many playful arguments with my grandmother who swore by it."
Lou: Are there any conditions you are seeing right now that are cause for alarm or excitement?
Jack: "Hard to say. We’re heading into a stronger El Nino this year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much. I forecasted a near-normal winter in my seasonal outlook. Even the most scientific seasonal forecasts are still a guessing game, though."
Lou: What weather conditions make for the most dangerous driving?
Jack: "Ice. There have been a few times we have had only a small trace of ice, but the roads turn into a skating rink. The wording is critical to ice forecasts, as they can be highly impactful to society even without much precipitation. A couple of notable examples include January 18th, 2015, and January 5th, 2022."
Lou: What do you do for fun during a snowstorm?
Jack: "In all honesty, I’m usually up for 24 hours straight before it snows doing everything possible to get the best forecast out. When it starts snowing I relax and just enjoy watching it fall. I am excited to take my 2-year-old sledding this year though."
Lou: What is your favorte cold-weather snack?
Jack: "We are stocked for snowstorms. Usually like to do “appetizer” foods the whole day. Wings, bagel pizzas, jalapeno poppers etc. We cleaned out the freezer section."
Lou: What is your favorite holiday movie?
Jack: "I’m still a fan of the classic A Christmas Story."
Lou: Will you be rooting for a white Christmas?
Jack: "Of course!"
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