As the governor’s special aide for meteorological affairs, Mel Goldstein noticed that the threat of a tornado was surprisingly high at the Danbury Fairgrounds on the very day the governor was supposed to be paying a visit. After the governor received his warning, she went back to her home in Windsor Locks. A tornado did occur later that day, but not at the fairgrounds.
It struck in Windsor Locks.
Goldstein, the Channel 8 weatherman popularly known as “Dr. Mel”, spoke on “New England Weather” Saturday at the Peabody Museum. The speech was part of the museum’s John H. Ostrom Program Series. Much of the speech focused on the variety of the weather seen in New England. Goldstein noted that weather in the region comes in many forms, from hurricanes and snowstorms to tornadoes.
“I don’t think there’s a place on earth that receives more weather than we do,” Goldstein said. “I know Kansas may receive a lot more tornadoes — but does Kansas have hurricanes?”
He said the diversity of the weather can largely be attributed to location. New England is located at the “midlatitudes,” a region around 40 degrees latitude where the greatest amount of energy transfer occurs. This energy transfer causes storms to develop.
Since New England is on the east coast, it must also deal with weather traveling east from the west and storms caused by the combination of the warm Gulf Stream and cold air from Canada.
Goldstein said New England has a good deal of tornados. He said the “threat weighting” for New England — a figure determined by looking at the number of tornadoes per square mile and factoring in population density — is the highest in the country.
The self-described “last of the great snow lovers,” Goldstein noted that New Haven receives 12 snowfalls of an inch or more each year on average, but that only one of these storms gives more than five inches of snow. Furthermore, a foot or more of snow only arrives about once every four years.
He also spoke about the dangers of global warming. Five of the 10 warmest years have occurred in the last 10 years, he said.
Another topic of discussion, raised in the question and answer period following the speech, was the accuracy of weather forecasts. Goldstein noted that the 24-hour forecast is right about 85 percent of the time. He said the problem is that people care the most about developing weather, when the forecast is least likely to be accurate.
“If you just say tomorrow will be like today, you’ll be right two-thirds of the time,” Goldstein said.
The speech was well attended by members of the community, although no Yale students appeared to be in the audience. Those who listened to Goldstein appreciated the way he made the subject interesting for people of various ages and backgrounds.
The Ostrom lectures this year focus on biodiversity and global change, Melanie Brigockas, the museum’s public relations & marketing manager said.
The next lecture will be delivered on February 14 by geology and geophysics professor Karl Turekian and will focus on climate change.