John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Considering the "historic" blizzard in this weekend's weather forecast and all.
Many a New England ear has no doubt perked up, like deer startled by a rifle cock, upon hearing about the potential for a dang blizzard this weekend.
Weather models had come to a "very good agreement" that there could be a "potentially historic" winter storm in the Boston-Providence corridor from Friday into Saturday, according to a National Weather Service bulletin issued late last night. The weather agency said it was "confident" that the plump snow dump could bring accumulations of 1 to 2 feet, with the higher amounts occurring (sorry, drivers!) in the I-95 corridor.
There could also be quarter-mile visibility and nutso rates of snowfall of 2 to 3 inches per hour. Here's what the NWS office in Boston posted to its Facebook page yesterday, prompting this response from a commenter, "Please...NO, NO, NO!!!"
Lots is going to happen over the next 24 hours that could alter this most-dire forecast. For updates, you should check out the Eastern Regional HQ of the NWS or the Boston branch. And if you're the type of person who loves to dwell on worst-case scenarios, while at the latter site just go ahead and click on the headline reading "The Blizzard of 1978 Remembered 35 Years Later."
The weather agency has thoughtfully put together a media-rich primer on this legendary nor'easter, which right around this time of February dealt the Northeast a frosty fusillade that tore apart seaside houses and stopped traffic dead for a week. Not to say that's going to happen this time! In fact, given the substantial terribleness of the '78 blitz, it's probably not. But still, it's a wonder to behold, so shall we proceed?
The massive winter storm coagulated in the atmosphere on February 5, right on the heels of another historic blizzard, and broke up on February 7. When it was gone, it looked like Zeus had dropped a kilo of cocaine on the region. A genitals-chilling 38 inches of snow lay on the ground in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, 27.6 inches in Providence, 27.1 in Boston and 16.9 in Hartford, Connecticut. Two thousand homes were destroyed. More than 10,000 people made their way to snow shelters. Tidal swells had folks boating in the streets. The Red Cross logged 99 fatalities.
Here's what the giant looked like on satellite:
And now witness the whiteout afterward:
(Images via NOAA)
And here's some nearly unbelievable footage during 1978's snow blasting, featuring silver-tongued Boston meteorologist Harvey Leonard: