- Education and Science
Boston's High-Rise View of the Blizzard of 2013
As I am starting this article, it is just over a week after the snowstorm, and it is snowing again. It sets me in the right mood to compile this. This time we are only expecting a few inches at the most, and since we have had many mild days to melt some of the snow away, and a week to get things cleared, it's not big deal at all. We're back to normal life in the Northeast.
The storm that was from February 8th, Friday, through February 9th, Saturday in the Northeast was a result of 2 storms combining forces- one with the cold weather, and one with the moisture.
It was predicted that Boston would get up to 2 feet, or at least 21-22 inches. Intense snow was supposed to start early in the evening, and it was expected to be over late on Saturday morning. Since there would be high winds, power losses were fully expected. Thunder-snow was a possibility in some spots, and there was a coastal flooding warning for some. With two astronomically high tides in under 13 hours, a 2-4 foot storm surge was expected, resulting in flooding and beach erosion. 1/4 mile visibility was expected for some time during the storm.
South Boston, Massachusetts
In the Beginning of the Storm:Click thumbnail to view full-size
My Experience During the Storm:
- I woke up on Friday, February 8th to white skies and quietness. There were dark clouds in the distance.
- It was 32 degrees, but it was expected to cool down more as the snow shower rolled through.
- We had the news on for much of the day, and I was jotting down notes on the storm, and what I could see from my window. It wasn't a dramatic day, but it sure was exciting!
- To keep roads clear, schools were closed, and non-essential state employees were told to stay home. It seemed that most of the cars in my neighborhood stayed where they were, and not many people were waiting at the bus stop.
- At around 9:30, it was harder to see the buildings in the distance, and it started flurrying.
- At 10:30, the flurries multiplied, the wind was blowing it all over the place, and snow had accumulated on the grass.
- At 12, it was snowing harder, and it was very gusty out. The snow was still only sticking on the grass. Roads were wet. Plows were making their rounds. They pretreated roads in preparation of the storm.
- Last-minute shoppers were buying food and supplies, and gas stations were full of people looking to fill their cars and their gas cans. Some gas stations were running out of the cheap gas.
- At some point, utility companies brought in over 2,000 people to help once it's safe to start working.
- There was a parking ban downtown.
- At 2 pm, snow was going steady, and the wind was remaining strong. It was still 32 degrees, and snow was sticking to rooftops and pavement. Most everything had a coating of snow by then.
- At 3 pm, there were no toll collections (toll collectors needed to get home before the driving ban).
- At 3:30 pm, the public transportation stopped. Until Sunday, there's no buses, trains, subways, or boats running in Boston. At Logan International Airport, no flights in or out of Boston, and no departures until around Sunday.
- At 4 pm, there was a ban on driving, except for the plows and emergency personnel. This kept the roads clear, so the plow drivers could effectively remove snow, and also reduced the likelihood of car accidents, or getting trapped in cars.
- As it got later, the visibility dropped dramatically. From one of my windows, it was hard to see across the street at one point.
- At 6 pm, the visibility was low. With no sun, the sky was fairly dark, but the snow made the landscape look bright. The streetlights looked pretty, reflecting off of the snow. It was 31 degrees, and winds were 40 mph, with 46 mph gusts, according to the news.
- I noticed kids going down the street with sleds, and wondered where they were going.
- As of 7 pm, there were only 2,500 power outages in the Northeast.
- As of 9:30 pm, 93,000 people were out of power. What a difference 2 1/2 hours makes! My apartment didn't lose power, but I felt bad for those that did. Most people prepare any way they can, but it is never a fun thing to go through.
- After 5 1/2 hours of the driving ban, no citations had been handed out, deeming it effective.
- Snow had accumulated quite a bit, but it was hard to tell how much, because the wind was blowing it all over the place! On the news, they're not giving snow totals for Boston, only other towns.
- At one point I saw light flashing across the sky three times, which was most likely thunder. It lit up the sky, although I didn't see the actual bolts. Stunning! Thundersnow was reported in a few different areas of the Northeast.
- As of 11:30 pm, over 300,000 power outages. An astounding amount of people to be without power, but nothing unusual for a big snowstorm.
- I went to sleep, excited about what I would see in the morning.
- At 8:30 on Saturday, February 9th, I looked out the window to see uneven layers of snow all over the place, winds blowing powder all over, and snow still coming down.
- At that point, the news reported that there were 398,913 outages in the NE, and that the storm had been proclaimed as a blizzard late last night.
Blizzard Qualifications: 3 consecutive hours with snow, 35 mph winds, and 1/4 mile visibility.
- A state of emergency was declared at one point.
- The National Guard mobilized over 5,000 troops for the storm.
- As of 9 am, no deaths were reported as a result of the storm itself.
- In the morning the snow total for Boston was up to 21.8.
- The United States Postal Service didn't deliver on Saturday (not only in Boston, but in about 7 states).
- The airport opened one runway on early Saturday morning.
- All morning, while the roads were nearly free of traffic, I saw many people outside. There were kids with sleds, adults in skiis, and dogs bouncing all over the place. Many people started digging their cars out of the snow. It was fun to watch from up high!
- The final total for the storm in Boston, which I didn't hear about until later, was 24.9.
- Over time, reports came in about deaths resulting from the aftermath of the snowstorm: car accidents, heart attacks, carbon monoxide poisoning, and such. It's a tragic and unfortunate part of any storm.
- I didn't actually get outside until Sunday. It was a clear, beautiful day, and once I went downstairs I could see that the snow really was pretty deep! In my boots, I went through the snow to get to the beach, which was free of snow. It was low tide (or close to it), and I could see where the high tide had been, right next to the snow line. What a beautiful sight!
After a walk out in the snow, I made some hot cocoa, using Jimtxmiller's recipe. Try it yourself, and you'll see how decadent and tasty it is!
- Healthy Homemade Hot Cocoa
Mesoamericans learned of this super food from monkeys, and proclaimed cocoa a gift from the gods. As a health food, research today shows those ancient chocolate lovers got it right from the start.
Accumulation of Snow:Click thumbnail to view full-size
Across the Northeast and Canada, 18 people reportedly died as a result of the storm.
2 people in Boston died of carbon monoxide poisoning inside running snowed in vehicles, in 2 separate incidents. At least 2 others were hospitalized in another incident, but fortunately they survived.
In Connecticut, there were at least 2 heart attacks, one woman was hit by a car while she was using a snowblower (a hit-and-run), and a couple of others were found dead outside their homes (possibly monoxide poisoning).
A man in Maine crashed into a tree, and his truck fell into the river.
In New Hampshire, a man died in an auto accident.
In New York, a young woman lost control of her car, hitting an older man, who died. In addition, there was one tractor accident, one possible heart-attack, and three more unspecific deaths.
In Canada, 2 deaths were caused as a result of heart attacks, and two as the result of auto accidents.
I read in articles that the total was 18, but this doesn't quite add up right...
After the Storm:
Hamden, Connecticut was the hardest hit community, reporting 40 inches of snow, going down at 4-5 inches per hour.
In Boston, we had wind gusts up to 76 mph, and we ended up with 24.9 inches, putting it as #5 on the list of big snowstorms in the city.
In Boston, February is often the cruelest month. The top 3 storms took place in February.
Once the storm was over, utility crews could start working. Houses and businesses gradually got their power back on, but it took several days for all 398,913 of them to be restored. As of Sunday at 10 am, it was down to 250,000 outages, and on Monday, it was down to 114,000. On Tuesday, there were still 17,000 left. I'm not sure when the remaining got their electricity back on.
The travel ban for Boston was lifted at 4 pm on Saturday.
As the storm strengthened, and even after the storm was over for us, areas along the coast still had a hurdle: The astronomically high tides occurred at 9:45 pm Friday, and 10 am Saturday morning. Evacuations were issued in Hull, and shoreline areas of Marshfield, and Scituate.
Most schools in the area were closed on Monday, due to the snow or loss of power.
The driving ban was for a period of 24 hours, from 4 pm on Friday, to 4 pm on Saturday. During that time, anyone (except for emergency, personnel and plowers, as well as other necessary exceptions) caught driving on ANY road during that time would be subject to a $500 penalty and up to 1 year of jailtime. They really didn't want anyone to disobey that rule!
In large part to the driving ban, only 30-32 stranded motorists had to be rescued, which is much less than usual.
After Dark Photos:Click thumbnail to view full-size
Top 5 Snow Storms Now:
Previously, the top totals for Boston were:
- 27.5 Feb 17-18, 2003, President's Day Storm
- 27.1 Feb 6-7, 1978, Northeastern US Blizzard of '78
- 26.3 Feb 24-27, 1969
- 25.4 March 31-April 1, April Fool's Day Storm
Previously, #5 was 22.1 inches, Jan 22-23, 2005 storm, but now the February 2013 storm has taken its place!
5. 24.9 Nor'easter, February 8-9, 2013 (A.K.A. "Nemo")
Time-Lapse Videos of the Storm:
- New England blizzard 2013 videos: Time-lapse videos of Northeast blizzard go viral on YouTube
During the blizzard of 2013, many people had a similar idea when they started preparing for the arrival of the storm: film the snowfall with their camera's time lapse feature.
Saturday: the Aftermath:Click thumbnail to view full-size
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