‘Bomb Cyclone’ Grayson Floods Boston Area Roads

Some of Beantown's streets looked more like Alaska than the home of the Red Sox.

A strong winter storm hit the northeast U.S. on Thursday. A combination of high winds, high tides, and low barometric pressure brought flooding along with snow and ice to many seacoast areas, including Boston itself.

Flooding was widespread throughout coastal areas of Massachusetts. Any of these contributing factors alone would have caused problems, but the combination of them brought unusually severe flooding to areas that don’t normally see it.

The Massachusetts State Police posted pictures to Twitter of boats that had ridden the tide all the way up to street level in Boston’s seaport district. Fortunately, as the State Police said, at least they weren’t floating down the street.


The same can’t be said for these dumpsters in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood. Normally this area would be bustling with activity on a Thursday afternoon, but thanks to flooding the only traffic were these dumpsters being pushed around by floodwaters.

Similar flooding occurred outside Boston as well. This video shows a neighborhood in Scituate, south of Boston, that has turned into a river due to flooding.

Conditions were treacherous inland as well. Up to 17 inches of snow was reported by the National Weather Service in many areas. The heaviest snowfall occurred mid-afternoon, as storm totals reported on local Skywarn nets jumped significantly from one hour to the next, with near white-out conditions during the heaviest snowfall. (I helped run these nets, relaying reports from amateur radio operators directly to the National Weather Service myself.)

Fortunately, most people stayed off the roads during the storm. A few who didn’t soon found themselves in trouble.

A foot and a half of snow is nothing we Bostonians can’t handle. But this particular storm was unusual in its intensity, the speed at which it zoomed up the east coast from Florida, and the “perfect storm” of adverse conditions to cause significant flooding along the coast. Although conditions are clear, cold, and calm on Friday, most roads remain slippery, and many towns canceled school for Friday on Thursday night. 

Fortunately, the bitter cold snap should end soon, and temperatures above freezing for the first time in weeks should help melt the remaining snow and ice on New England’s roads.