Tuesday Reads: The Big Dig, Snowpocalypse, Snowmageddon 2015

Scene along the Charles River in Cambridge

Scene along the Charles River in Cambridge

Good Morning!!

This morning I have reached the point where I can’t think of anything else but dealing with snow. I hope you’ll forgive me for being too self-involved to focus on much more than surviving the terrible onslaught we’re going through here in Greater Boston. I’m going to share some photos and news about the mess we’re in here before I get to anything else.

The photo above was taken by my sister-in-law. Here are a couple more of her lovely photos of Cambridge.

Another view of the Charles River

Another view of the Charles River

One of Cambridge's narrow streets

One of Cambridge’s narrow streets

Some Snowy News:

The Christian Science Monitor, The Big Dig: New England struggles with record snow – and more coming.

Snow-choked New England braced for more winter grief later in the week as people dug out from another 2 feet of snow Tuesday. Thousands of angry Boston commuters stranded by a transit shutdown scrambled to find other ways to get to work.

As people struggled to find places to put the latest snow, and officials considered dumping it by the truckload into the ocean, forecasters warned that yet more snow was possible Thursday and again over the weekend.

That’s right, folks. Even after we’ve set multiple records for snowfall over the past couple of weeks, we are expecting more storms. Some of the effects on the region so far:

Boston-area subways, trolleys and commuter rail trains ground to a halt at 7 p.m. Monday and remained idle Tuesday, with only limited bus service continuing. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority said it needed the break to clear snow and ice from tracks and to assess equipment damaged by the spate of storms….

Boston hospitals set up sleeping areas for workers and police were offering rides to work for doctors and nurses.

Hundreds of flights were canceled at New England airports. Officials at Boston’s Logan International Airport said they hoped normal passenger service would resume by midday Tuesday.

Massachusetts environmental officials gave cities and towns with no place else to put accumulating snow the green light to dump some into the ocean or other bodies of water if necessary.

The Department of Environmental Protection on Monday cited the challenges involved in getting rid of the historic snowfalls. Local communities may seek permission to take emergency steps that allow disposal of snow into open water, which is normally prohibited. Officials also were using giant melters to liquefy snow.

Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, Feb. 9, 2015

Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, Feb. 9, 2015

Here’s why the T had to shut down. From The Boston Globe: Passengers stuck on Red Line train for more than two hours.

More than 40 passengers were safely evacuated from a southbound Red Line train that became stranded for more than two hours between stations in Quincy due to a power failure, MBTA officials said.

Spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the train lost power around 7 a.m. Monday, and the final passengers were escorted out of the cars around 9 a.m….

“The tracks are completely exposed to the storm conditions,” said Pesaturo. “The third rail was completely covered by heavy snow. The train could not move because of a lack of power.”

Pesaturo said the 48 passengers were safely taken off the train and transferred to a bus.

The next storm is due soon. From The Globe: Up to 6 more inches of snow on the way.

The National Weather Service is predicting the snowfall for a 24-hour period from 7 a.m. Thursday to 7 a.m. Friday.

A map generated by the National Weather Service at 4:46 a.m. Tuesday shows higher accumulation in Eastern Mass., and predicts 2 to 3 inches for most of the area outside of I-495.

Kenmore Square and the famous CITGO sign.

Kenmore Square and the famous CITGO sign.

For some strange reason, there is a small area of Greater Boston that is taking the brunt of these storms. That’s the area I live in.

Thursday’s expected snowfall comes amid a record period for the Boston area, in which about 6 feet has fallen over a 30-day period, beating the previous record of 58.5 inches, which was set in 1978.

The National Weather Service said 76.5 inches have fallen in Boston this winter season through 7 p.m. Monday.

But that won’t be the end of it, according to The Weather Channel. There’s another storm expected on Valentine’s Day weekend. 

It is still too soon (4+ days out) to determine whether the offshore low will track close enough to bring heavy snow to parts of New England and the Northeast. If a closer low track (heavier snow) would take place, peak impacts would occur Saturday night into Sunday with the heaviest snow in coastal New England.

Regardless where the low tracks, behind the arctic front and intensifying offshore low — you guessed it — bitterly cold air will settle in, driven by strong winds, leading to dangerous wind chills and areas of blowing/drifting snow. Temperatures may remain stuck in the single digits or, at best, teens much of Sunday in New England, with morning lows in the single digits above or below zero.

Boston's Financial district

Boston’s Financial district

Honestly, I was doing pretty well until yesterday, when I discovered that I couldn’t open my front door. It was frozen shut. I went out through the garage and, with the help of a neighbor, got the door to open. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t close all the way and I couldn’t lock it anymore. Stupidly, I locked the storm door.

This morning, the front door is again frozen shut and I won’t be able to open it from the outside because of my stupid decision to lock the storm door. I’ll have to try to get the door open with a hairdryer or go in and out through the garage. Don’t even ask about the back door. That would require digging a long pathway through at least four feet of snow.

I guess I need to call a waaaambulance. If I sound discouraged, I’m not alone. From the Globe: Unrelenting snowfall darkening our moods.

From commuting odysseys to back-wrenching shoveling and days without a drop of sunshine, this winter’s unrelenting snow is wrecking the region’s collective psyche.

Precious free time for trips to the gym, often a psychological balm, has largely vanished. Ditto for meeting friends or gathering with family.

For many, a single-minded focus on navigating the avalanche of storms can weigh heavily, therapists said Monday.

“It is assaulting people,” said Barbara Green, a psychologist at the Center for Integrative Counseling and Wellness in Hingham. “Even strong, resilient, upbeat people are starting to feel a bit frayed emotionally.”

Green said she is hearing from patients that normal daily stresses — commuting, working, taking care of a family — seem magnified many times over, especially for people with low-paying jobs who do not have the luxury of missing a day at work.

“People’s normal coping skills and strategies erode,” Green said. “Instead of eating a healthy diet, they eat cookies, maybe even drinking more.”

Well, I don’t have those problems anyway, because I don’t drink and I don’t have any cookies or other sweets lying around. I’m also luckier than most people, because I don’t have to get out to work. I’m just having to give myself pep talks and call friends and family for support and to feel less isolated.

Boston Common, Feb. 9, 2015

Boston Common, Feb. 9, 2015

 

Other News

CBS 6 Charlottesville, VA, Sources: Jesse Matthew charged with first-degree murder of Hannah Graham

An 11 a.m. press conference in Charlottesville on Tuesday will reveal that Jesse Matthew Jr. has been charged with first-degree murder in the death ofHannah Graham according to CBS 6 sources….

Matthew, 32, is currently charged with the abduction with intent to defile, in Graham’s disappearance. She was in her second-year at the University of Virginia.

Graham was last seen leaving a Charlottesville bar with Matthew, on Sept. 13. Her remains were found on an abandoned property in Albemarle County on Oct. 18.

Graham’s body was discovered roughly five miles from where Morgan Harrington’s body was found in Albemarle County in January 2010. In November 2014, police forensically linked Harrington to Matthew when his DNA was found on the black “Pantera” shirt she wore the night of her disappearance.

The 20-year-old Harrington, who was a Virginia Tech student, disappeared outside of the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville while attending a Metallica concert on Oct. 17, 2009.

Matthew is currently incarcerated in Fairfax County, where he is facing attempted capital murder, rape, and sexual assault charges relating to the attack and rape of a Fairfax woman in 2005. DNA has also linked him to this case.  He will remain behind bars in Fairfax until his trial on March 9.

City worker tries to clear a sidewalk in downtown Boston

City worker tries to clear a sidewalk in downtown Boston

Remember Dominique Strauss Kahn?

USA Today, Strauss-Kahn: I didn’t know those women were prostitutes.

Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn denied allegations Tuesday that he knowingly helped organize orgies with sex workers.

Strauss-Kahn, 65, was testifying at a court in northern France for his alleged connection with a prostitution ring at a hotel in Lille.

“I committed no crime,” Strauss-Kahn, once thought to be a contender for the French presidency, said in a letter read to the court as he took the stand.

Strauss-Kahn said he was not aware the women in question, whom he admits participated in orgies at luxury hotels in Paris and Washington, were prostitutes. He said he ignored their “prostitutional character” and that he himself had only taken part occasionally and that there had been no “wild activity.”

Strauss-Kahn and 13 others are accused of aggravated pimping based on hundreds of pages of testimony provided to investigators by prostitutes describing the orgies.

Man shoveling in Dorchester neighborhood, Feb. 9, 2015

Man shoveling in Dorchester neighborhood, Feb. 9, 2015

The Guardian, US prosecutors weigh criminal charges against HSBC as Warren turns up the heat.

The US Department of Justice is considering bringing criminal charges against HSBC and its executives as part of its investigation into whether the bank’s Swiss subsidiary helped US clients evade taxes.

Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren called on prosecutors to “come down hard” on HSBC if the bank is found to have colluded with tax evaders on Tuesday.

Her intervention came as US government officials with knowledge of the DoJ’s investigation provided the Guardian with new details about the inquiry.

Renewed focus has been placed on the long-running investigation into HSBC Switzerland by the department, after a huge leak of secret bank data – passed to the DOJ’s tax division almost five years ago – was obtained by the Guardian and other media.

It shows that HSBC Switzerland helped some clients conceal millions of undeclared assets, and has immediately raised questions on Capitol Hill about the response from prosecutors and tax authorities.

BOSTON - FEBRUARY 8: Crews use an Aero Snow Melter to dispatch mounds of snow at the Marine Industrial Park snow farm on February 8, 2015. (Photo by Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

BOSTON – FEBRUARY 8: Crews use an Aero Snow Melter to dispatch mounds of snow at the Marine Industrial Park snow farm on February 8, 2015. (Photo by Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

More Headlines

CNN, American ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller dead, family says.

ABC News, A Look Back at UVA Student Hannah Graham’s Disappearance.

WaPo, Was Brian Williams terrorized by gangs at the Ritz-Carlton during Katrina?

The Independent UK, Charles Manson wedding off after it emerges that fiancee Afton Elaine Burton ‘just wanted his corpse for display’.

NY Daily News, Drew Peterson charged with trying to kill Illinois lead prosecutor while behind bars.

NY Daily News, Baby born carrying twin fetuses (Please don’t tell the anti-abortion crowd about this one, or that poor little baby could be in big trouble).

HuffPo, New Jeb Bush Hire Called Women ‘Sluts’ On Twitter.

Reuters, Mumps outbreak linked to Idaho university spreads to Washington state.

ABC News, Stay Away From ‘Measles Parties’ Docs Warn Parents.

The stories I found are somewhat lurid today. I don’t know if that’s because of my mood or a real reflection of what’s happening. Please post your recommended reads in the comment thread, and have a terrific Tuesday!

 


Tuesday Reads: Blizzard of 2015 and Other News

A pedestrian crosses Beacon Street in Boston as a large snowstorm approaches New England on Monday, January 26, 2015. Staff photo by Christopher Evans

A pedestrian crosses Beacon Street in Boston as a large snowstorm approaches New England on Monday, January 26, 2015. Staff photo by Christopher Evans

Good Morning!!

As of late last night we didn’t have much snow where I live, but this morning there’s at least a foot out there if not more. The town hasn’t even plowed my street yet, so it looks like a sea of white and you can’t tell there’s a road there at all. The snow is piled up against the storm door, so I’ll either have to dig out gradually while pushing the door outward or try to get out through the garage. We are still expecting at least another foot today before the storm passes.

I can’t really complain so far. I’m warm and dry and I have electricity. I feel for the people along the coast and on the islands. Here in Massachusetts, Nantucket and parts of Cape Cod have lost power.  Nantucket had 78 mph winds last night. In Scituate, which is on the South Shore, “officials cut power to homes along ocean,” 

SCITUATE, Mass. (WHDH) –Town officials in Scituate cut power to several coastal roads because they fear, if an electrical fire sparks inside a home it could easily spread to several homes and fire crews wouldn’t be able to access it during high tide.

It was a precaution based of a similar storm in 2010 that destroyed two houses.

“We’re doing it for this storm, because experience has told us, the power company  needs lots of advance notice to power down an area, we expect significant flooding in this area,” Scituate Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi said.

“There are no mandatory evacuations permitted in MA, that’s why can only ask people to voluntarily leave,” Vinchesi said.

I feel for those people. The temperature where I live was in the single numbers last night and it’s only in the teens right now.

Orion (L) walks through Central Park after a snowstorm hit New York January 27, 2015 ©Stan Honda (AFP)

Orion (L) walks through Central Park after a snowstorm hit New York January 27, 2015 ©Stan Honda (AFP)

 

You can watch the storm track live at NBCNews.com. Here’s the latest on the storm, according to NBC.

Coastal New England was battered Tuesday by a blizzard of blinding snow, ferocious waves and winds that topped hurricane speed, and city streets in Boston were empty of all but snowplows.

New York City, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut lifted travel bans, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said subways and buses in the nation’s largest city would roll again later in the morning. But major airports in the Northeast were still deserted after more than 7,700 flights were canceled.

In Massachusetts, the blizzard was living up to its historic billing. The city of Worcester, about 60 miles west of Boston, had 25 inches of snow on the ground and was closing in on its record of 32.1 as a band of extremely heavy snow settled in for the morning.

In Boston proper:

Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston said it could still be Tuesday night or Wednesday before mass transit starts rolling again there. In the meantime, police were ferrying doctors and nurses to their hospital shifts.

“We’ve had a pretty good night, but the main bulk of the storm is hitting us right now,” Walsh of Boston said on NBC’s TODAY. “We’re asking people just to stay in their homes today and just ride this one out.”

Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island were all under states of emergency as of early this morning. Apparently the storm was somewhat of a bust in NYC, with only about 6 inches in Central Park and not much more predicted.

From USA Today: Mighty storm hammers Northeast; NYC ‘dodges bullet.’

A mighty storm marched resolutely across the deserted streets of the Northeast early Tuesday, showing mercy on New York City and Philadelphia but relentlessly pounding Boston and many coastal areas with heavy snow, high winds and flooding.

More than 50 million people were hunkered down in the angry storm’s path. More than 7,000 flights were canceled, road travel was banned in several states and schools were closed for millions of kids.

The storm was forecast to continue roaring through much of the region into Wednesday, although forecasters were downgrading the potential impact in some areas. The National Weather Service said the storm tracked 50 to 75 miles further east than expected.

“It’s a case of haves and have nots,” AccuWeather meteorologist Tyler Roys told USA TODAY on Tuesday. “The worst of it is in the coastal areas. Other places have been relatively spared.”

Philadelphia, which on Monday morning appeared to be vulnerable to huge snow totals, had about an inch downtown early Tuesday. A blizzard warning was canceled for New York City and New Jersey.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio opened city streets to traffic Tuesday morning, and the subway system was being brought up to speed. The city had feared a blast of 20 inches of snow or more; Central Park had almost 8 inches Tuesday morning.

“This is a better-safe-than-sorry scenario,” de Blasio said on CNN Tuesday morning. “It is still very bad on the streets … but we dodged a bullet.”

Here’s another NBC News page with live updates on transportation delays and road closings.

For the real weather geeks, here’s an article from The Boston Globe on How and Why Nor’easters Form.

One question you might ask during this major storm is how and why did this form? If you saw a forecast as recently as Friday, meteorologists thought this storm would stay mostly out to sea, obviously that isn’t the case. Let me explain why the storm formed and then why it’s hitting and moving so slowly.

It’s important to keep this in mind when thinking about a storm. It’s all about nature’s attempt to bring balance to the atmosphere. Storms try to blend cold and warm air together to make them even. Once this happens, a storm will weaken and die. As the storm is forming the contrast in air masses is at it’s most intense. We are seeing nature’s attempt to bring warm air north and cold air south, the result is an intense coastal storm, we call a nor’easter.

Noreaster

You have likely heard of the jet stream. This is the band of winds at 30,000 feet that moves storms and air masses across the middle latitudes of the planet where we live. This jet stream doesn’t blow in a straight line. Instead it has curves and loops and these change the way the air flows within this stream of air. Basic meteorology tells us that if the air up at 30,000 feet is spreading out and speeding up it in turn aids in pulling the air upward off the surface of the planet. We call these concepts diffluence and divergence and they are two major components to why winter storms form. That upward motion or lift brings the air from the ground higher and higher until it cools and forms clouds and eventually precipitation. The more lift you have, the bigger the storm.

upperlevel12814

When storms are formed and becoming more intense all the levels of the atmosphere work in tandem to help build the storm.

Read much more wonky stuff about weather at the link.

So that’s the winter weather situation as of this morning. If you are in one of the affected states, please let us know how you’re doing.

In other news,

I’m going stick with headlines this morning, because I’m still fighting a cold and I didn’t sleep that well last night. Here’s what’s happening:

Washington Post, Koch-backed network aims to spend nearly $1 billion on 2016 elections.

Politico, The Kochs put a price on 2016: $889 million.

Via Cannonfire, an interview  with Max Blumenthal at The Read News about the lies in the movie American Sniper, American Sniper: Honoring a Fallen Hero or Whitewashing a Murderous Occupation?

AL.com, Alabama’s first openly gay lawmaker threatens to ‘out’ officials having extramarital affairs.

The Hill, Pelosi: With Hillary Clinton, Democrats can win the House.

Something very creepy out of Indiana, Gov. Mike Pence’s state-run news outlet will compete with media. “Gov. Mike Pence is starting a state-run taxpayer-funded news outlet that will make pre-written news stories available to Indiana media, as well as sometimes break news about his administration, according to documents obtained by The Indianapolis Star.” Yikes!

Interesting developments in Greece.

The Guardian, Greece’s new anti-austerity government set on collision course with Brussels.

The New Yorker, Greece’s Warning to the Rest of Europe.

NPR, Greece’s Left-Wing Prime Minister Takes Charge.

Fox News, Bergdahl to be charged with desertion, ex-military intel officer says.

Washington Post, Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling convicted in leak case.

Talking Points Memo, Jon Stewart Has Field Day With Incomprehensible Palin Speech (VIDEO).

What else is happening? Please share your links in the comment thread and enjoy your Tuesday!