Mass. Rescue Crews Stay Busy During Blizzard
Jan. 05—The winter "bomb cyclone" detonated with fury over the Bay State yesterday, dumping up to 17 inches of snow, unleashing 75 mph wind gusts and swelling storm tides to levels not seen since the Blizzard of '78—and more Arctic agony is on the way with below-zero temperatures expected tonight.
"It was definitely one of the highest storm tides on record," said Hayden Frank, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
The desolate streets of Boston were left awash in icy seawater.
First responders used rubber rescue boats to help people trapped on State and Atlantic streets near the New England Aquarium. Cars were trapped in a frozen mess with flooding reported on Causeway Street, Lawley Street, Morrissey Boulevard and Seaport Boulevard. A dumpster floated down a side road in the Seaport.
An already high astronomical tide of 12.1 feet—caused by the normal, predictable gravitational pull of the sun and moon—combined with a storm surge of about 3 feet created a towering tide of 15.1 feet, rivaling infamous Blizzard of '78 levels.
The first major snowstorm of 2018 unleashed havoc across Massachusetts and all along the coast.
Stoughton received an estimated 17.5 inches of snow, Lincoln got 17 inches, and Dorchester picked up 13 inches, Frank said.
Wind gusts of 75 mph—approaching hurricane force—were recorded in Wellfleet and East Falmouth, he added. In Bridgewater, an MBTA commuter rail train plowed into a vehicle that had become stuck on the tracks just before 1 p.m. Two passers-by rescued the driver and a passenger just in time.
In Gloucester, dozens of residents were told to park at the high school, only to have their vehicles flooded and submerged by the storm-whipped ocean.
"The flooding happened in 6 minutes. People didn't have time to get their car by the time they heard about it," said Alisha Elwell, whose Chevrolet Equinox sat in water midway up to the windows at the school. "There was a Honda Civic parked behind me. You couldn't see it. It was just gone."
In Winthrop, police Chief Terence Delehanty said the emergency crews had a "hectic" two hours following high tide, pumping water out of 50 homes, rescuing people from two cars, and responding to three-foot floods on one street.
Public schools in Boston remain closed today for the second straight day.
MBTA and transportation officials planned to spend last night scrambling to clear tracks and roads to run normal weekday service today.
"Our goal is get people moving again," Gov. Charlie Baker said.
Baker said he was aware of only one potential fatality amid the storm—in Quincy, where a man suffered a heart attack—but he cautioned that he didn't know the circumstances surrounding the death.
Still, winter woes will only get worse, Frank of the NWS said.
Highs in Boston today will be only in the mid-teens, then temperatures will plummet further tonight into tomorrow morning where lows could be around 0 degrees in Boston and 5 to 10 degrees below zero in the suburbs.
But with the wind chill—and gusts of up to 45 mph are expected—it will feel like anywhere between minus 15 and minus 35.