Monday, July 20, 2015

Beautiful Beach Day at Silver Sands State Park in Milford, CT

Nothing in summer is better than a beach day. The cool breeze off the water cools your skin, while your other senses are pleasantly overwhelmed by the crashing surf, ocean smell and hot sand. For me, the beach is a place of relaxation and exploration. The beach is a natural transition zone between the marine ecosystem and the land ecosystem. So naturally, this area is filled with interesting plants, animals and environmental formations. 

Below are photos I took at Silver Sands State Park in Milford, Connecticut. From shells, to interesting rocks and a beautiful sunset, I was able to capture some cool aspects of what makes the beach awesome and interesting. 

The first photograph is a close up image of shells on the beach. 

Shells at Silver Sands State Park

The next photograph is of Charles Island. Its a very small island that is located just off the coast of Milford and is a part of the Silver Sands State Park. What makes this island unique is its tombolo (essentially a sandbar) that forms during low tide, connecting the beach to the island. You can even walk out there but you have to be careful not to get stuck when the tide begins to rise! Also, the island is off limits from May - October to protect endangered birds nesting grounds. 

Charles Island in Milford, CT and the tombolo connecting the island to Silver Sands State Park. 

The next image is of a cool feature I discovered at low tide. It must be something man made that hasn't been moved in a while. Now it' is part of the seascape, creating an artificial tidal pool at low tide. Its pretty neat! 
Man-made tidal pool at low tide in the afternoon sun. 

Here's a close up photograph of the little tidal pool. So cool! 

Tidal pool at Silver Sands State Park in Milford, Connecticut. 
Long Island Sound is one of those places in the world that has a huge difference in tide levels from low tide to high tide. This area of Silver Sands has a very shallow and flat area off shore that allows for a lot of sand to be uncovered during low tide. As the tide goes out, it forms these little ridges in the sand, which just happen to glisten in the afternoon sun too! 

Low Tide at Silver Sands State Park
A piece of concrete is exposed during low tide. It's past use is hard to determine but I'm sure it currently provides a lovely home for fish and hermit crabs! 

Concrete at the beach

Clams, oysters and muscles were once abundant in the waters off Milford, Connecticut. Over time however,  over fishing and pollution diminished their presence. They're not completely gone. Muscles are a lot more abundant and easier to find than oysters or clams. Below is a muscle shell on the beach. 

Muscle shell on the beach
Beautiful piece of red seaweed on the beach during low tide. 

Seaweed at Silver Sands State Park
Birds love the beach for its abundant sources of food. They also enjoy walking in the sand and leaving their footprints behind! 

Bird prints in the sand at Silver Sands State Park
Finally, what would a day at the beach be like without a beautiful sunset to end the day! 

Sunset at Silver Sands State Park 

Monday, July 13, 2015

When is Your Warmest Day of the Year?

We're coming up on the "dog days of summer" and the heat is on for most of the country. This cool map below shows you the average days when a specific area sees their warmest day of the year. It varies throughout the country from early June through September. 

My area of southern Connecticut, typically sees the warmest day of the year in the time period of July 15 - 20.  Parts of Arizona and New Mexico peak in the latter days of June, While the immediate west coast peaks as late as the end of September!  

This is another awesome map from NOAA! Check out their Tornado Warning Map

Saturday, July 11, 2015

U.S. Lightning Fatalities Graphic

Here's a great graphic out of NOAA showing United States Lightning Fatalities from 2006 - 2015. So far the deadliest year has been 2006 with 48 deaths. The graphic also shows which gender the fatality was, which is interesting because it's almost 80% male!! 

Lightning is a very dangerous aspect of any thunderstorm, even non-severe storms! Remember, if you can hear thunder then you're close enough to be struck by lightning! Also, many people believe thunder and lightning are separate events but lighting is the action that causes thunder to occur! 

When a storm is headed your way, please seek shelter immediately, stay away from windows and don't use your plumbing (sink, shower). If a house is directly struck by lightning, the energy can flow through utilities like plumbing and strike you while you're inside your home! 

If you can't find shelter during a storm, stay away from tall objects like trees, a car is safer to stay in than a field, just don't touch the metal frame of your car. If you are stranded outside, kneel down as low as you can be, while also limiting the amount of your body touching the ground, don't stand in water. 

A great way to stay alert to storms in your area is by downloading various apps. A free app with lightning detector built into it is the WeatherBug app. It will tell you how far away the closest lightning strike is. You can even change settings to allow the app to alert you when lightning is close by.  

With technology today, lightning strikes should truly be freak accidents! 

Want to watch a cool 3D visualization of how lightning forms? Check out the cool video 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Cool Tornado Warning Map!

Here's a cool piece of information that combines my love of weather and my love of geography. This map below shows the days since the last tornado warning by National Weather Service office regions. The map was made on June 30th, so i'm sure it has changed over the last week but for some areas (like where I live it has not).  The dark grey areas are the office regions that have recently issued a tornado warning in the last 30 days. However the red areas are office regions that haven't issued a tornado warning in over a year! 

Interesting enough, one of those regions is the New York City NWS office, which forecasts for NYC, Long Island, parts of the Hudson Valley and southern Connecticut.  According to this map, the last time the NYC region NWS office issued a tornado warning was 728 days ago (Now that it's July 9th, that makes it 737 days!) 

The only office region that has a long streak of no tornado warnings is southern Oregon, where they haven't issued a tornado warning in 3599 days (or 3608 days as of July 9, 2015). That's almost a decade!  

*This map doesn't illustrate the last time an area was hit by a tornado, just the last time a tornado warning was issued by the office. Tornadoes unfortunately do occur without any official warnings.