Cleanup crews are still hard at work, clearing the snowfall from last week’s extreme winter storm. — Photo by Mike Moccia of Ball Square Café.

By Jim Clark

The ominous warnings about the impending so-called “bomb cyclone” became a reality last week, as a record-breaking winter storm of massive proportions lashed the East Coast with freezing winds and a thick lathering of snow all along the eastern seaboard.

Over the past two weeks, more than a few records have been broken, with the coldest stretch of cold weather recorded in over 100 years, the temperatures this weekend measuring the coldest since 1896. At one point, wind chills of -28 were registered in Boston. Tides were pushed higher as well as a result of the tremendously high winds that pushed along the shoreline.

About a foot of snow accumulated across the Greater Boston area, including Somerville. Cleanup crews were kept busy throughout the storm, struggling to keep roadways and footpaths clear for residents.

It began in earnest last Wednesday, with much colder than average temperatures recorded as far south as Florida, which experienced such surreal events as frozen iguanas dropping out of trees.

— Photo courtesy of NOAA GOES

Rapid drops in pressure occurred as the storm made its way up the coastline, and grew so large it began to take on the characteristics of a hurricane. Hence the term “bomb cyclone.”

Snowfall varied along the coast. New York recorded about a half of a foot of snow, while other cities in the southern regions only took a few inches.

According to meteorologists, the term “bomb cyclone” specifically refers to a rapidly deepening extratropical cyclonic low-pressure area. To enter this category, the central pressure of a depression at 60° latitude is required to decrease by 24 mbar (hPa) or more in 24 hours. This is a predominantly maritime, winter event, but also occurs in continental settings. This process is the extratropical equivalent of the tropical rapid deepening.

Locally, a good amount of snow needed to be cleared from roads and walkways. Not an easy task in such a cold and unforgiving environment.

While the worst has passed, there is still some digging out to be done, and city officials are warning residents to follow safety procedures and avoid long exposure to the elements.


2 Responses to “Highly anticipated ‘bomb cyclone’ hammers east coast, hits close to home”

  1. LindaS says:

    Clearing snow from your sidewalk is also not easy when the plows push the snow completely over the curb and onto the sidewalk. I understand they have to plow as close TO the curb as possible, but do they have to push the snow OVER the curb, too?

    Being on the even side of the street, I looked out my window the evening of the huge storm to see my front gate blocked by over two feet of snow some of which had been pushed all the way onto the sidewalk and added to the several inches of snow that had already fallen there. They hadn’t plowed much on the street during the storm, then decided to just do it all in one go without any care, leaving at least two feet of snow along the entire sidewalk.

    I was very lucky that one of my neighbors was extremely kind enough to shovel my walk out for me the next day, but considering how strenuous it is to handle this much snow with a shovel, it would be nice if plow drivers had some compassion and pushed the snow towards the curb but not all the way over, leaving at least a foot between them and the curb to avoid throwing more snow onto an already full sidewalk.

    Some people probably tried to clear some of the snow before the storm was over to make it easier for themselves the next day, only to find out that it was for nothing.

    I’m sure I’m not the only one who has this trouble and only has a shovel to dig themselves out with. I’m certainly willing to do my part to clear the snow from the sidewalk, but it’s not fair when I have to contend with literally tunneling myself out before I can even start.

    Had I not had help, I would have had to first dig myself out of my property just to get to the sidewalk, and taken at least an hour or more to clear a path along it.

    Let’s hope our Aldermen can address this issue to alleviate the strain on residents who have to contend with being blocked in by plows that throw as much snow onto the sidewalk as possible. I know this issue has been addressed before, but it appears to need repeating.

    Plow drivers have no problem moving snow around sitting in their warm trucks, but those of us who have to clear up afterwards don’t have it as easy, and we’re not getting paid for all our labor.

  2. Matt C says:

    Linda – We can either have clear(ish) streets and large berms on the sidewalks or impassable streets. There is only so much space available, I for one would prefer to know emergency services can make it down my street and suffer through the shoveling.

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