Coastal areas in the northeast US are assessing damage from a fast-moving “bomb cyclone” that caused temperatures to plummet, triggered heavy flooding and high winds, and dumped 2 ft of snow in some New England areas.
The resort island of Nantucket off Cape Cod recorded a 7-ft storm surge, leaving streets along its downtown waterfron under water. Elsewhere along the Massachusetts’ coast, large waves battered sea walls and flooded seaside communities, including Marshfield on the South Shore and Sandwich on Cape Cod.
The storm also left 100,000 people in Massachusetts without power at its peak on Jan. 29, with most restored by late Jan. 30, except on Nantucket.
Boston reported a near record 23.6-in. one day snowfall, tying a record last set in 2003, according to the National Weather Service.
Impacts were also felt Still, in coastal areas south to the Carolinas.
Highways across New Jersey were the scene of 178 crashes by mid-day on Jan. 29, with traffic grinding to a halt in some areas from flood waters and debris. New York City was hit with a foot or more of snow in some places.
Storm intensity was caused by a rapid drop in barometric pressure and its soaking up of moisture from coastal waters that was dumped inland.
Bruce Berman, director of communications for Boston-based Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, said wind direction—with the harbor relatively sheltered from the Nor’easter—was one reason the city escaped serious flooding. If the storm had approached from the southwest, it probably would have had a much more serious impact, pushing massive amounts of water into Boston Harbor, he said.
Berman noted that the storm highlights the need to rethink coastal building practices, with seawalls and other infrastructure unable to contain the ocean.
“Where you see the most damage is where people live, even though they know they shouldn’t,” he said. “They want to live near the ocean, as close as they can get to it, and they are building structures that are increasingly at risk.”