There were also exacerbating factors. Two of the storms produced high winds of 65 to 75 mph that caused blizzard conditions. The snowfall was accompanied by sustained cold temperatures. In Boston, a record 22 days experienced maximum temperatures below 32 degrees (which included a stretch of 15 consecutive days). The sustained cold allowed the snow to build up and caused a range of problems involving high snowbanks, narrow streets, roof loading, pipe breaks, and ice dams.
This active period of snow and prolonged cold led to nearly continuous Impact-based Decision Support Services (IDSS) activities at the National Weather Service (NWS) in Boston which included over 180 briefings to Emergency Managers, more than 600 media interviews, and an explosion of social media posts. The use of experimental coastal inundation forecasts and probabilistic snowfall forecasts was well received by core partners and provided a measure of forecast confidence as well as alternative scenarios for each storm.
This presentation will highlight some of the meteorology behind this historic stretch of winter weather but will focus more on the IDSS provided by the office as well as some of the human factors involved. IDSS focused on the “before, during, and after” each storm – as well as the “next one” which forced other activities to be put on hold such as training, system maintenance, and outreach. Staffing became an issue as many people worked long hours under stressful conditions and had to balance life at home. Takeaways will be discussed in order to share best practices as a resource for other NWS offices.