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Boston is about to have its second "once in a generation flood" this year

The entire East Coast is expecting a storm for the history books.

by Alex Lubben
Mar 2 2018, 2:30pm

Boston is in for its second-worst flooding ever — and the last record-breaker was only two months ago.

The extreme storm that started pounding the region early Friday is expected to break the record again, for the second time in 2018. The record for flooding in Boston, set in 1978, was broken on January 4 during the last “bomb cyclone.”

And it’s not just Boston: The entire East Coast is expecting a storm for the history books.

The storm — considered a bomb cyclone, the meteorological term for a storm that gets its energy from the rapid pressure drops caused by hot and cold air colliding — is the second to hit the East Coast this year. It will bring hurricane-force winds to parts of Massachusetts, with winds of over 80 miles per hour expected on Cape Cod. The National Weather Service in Boston called it a “LIFE & DEATH situation,” and, along the coast, emergency responders are preparing for the worst. As of Friday morning, half a million homes and businesses were already without power, according to the Weather Channel.

Connecticut will activate parts of its emergency response office at noon on Friday to monitor the storm, and parts of New York City are expecting three feet of flooding. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker tweeted early Friday that the storm is expected to be stronger than the one in January, and encouraged residents to evacuate if they’re asked to.

The winds and high tides brought on by Friday’s full moon will join forces to create devastating flood conditions. The high tide in Boston is expected to hit just before noon on Friday, and the National Weather Service warns that the tides in Boston Harbor could rise 5.03 feet higher than the average high-tide mark. In January, they hit 4.89 feet above high tide, breaking the 1970 record of 4.83.

Widespread property damage is expected along the coast. In the D.C. area, downed trees were reported early Friday.

The fact that seas are higher and continuing to rise in Boston at a rate of about 3 millimeters a year due to climate change doesn’t help things. Of the top 20 floods in Boston on record, 13 have occurred since 2000.

And it’s not getting better. A 2016 study from researchers at the University of Massachusetts found that sea levels are expected to rise in the Boston area by 10 feet by the end of the century.

Correction 5/7/18 12:33 p.m.: An earlier version of this article incorrectly labeled Charlie Baker the governor of Connecticut. He's the governor or Massachusetts.

Cover image: Cars sit in flood water from Boston Harbor on Long Wharf in Boston, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, after a massive storm that ht the East Coast. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

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