A powerful nor’easter hammered New England over the weekend with record snowfall and hurricane-force winds that left more than 100,000 electricity customers without power. The storm rapidly intensified off the coast of New Jersey into a “bomb cyclone” and dumped nearly two feet of snow on Boston, making Saturday its snowiest January day on record (and tied for its biggest one-day snow total ever). The storm also caused ocean surge that flooded shoreline communities in eastern Massachusetts.
Nor’easters feed off of jet stream energy and the difference between cold air and warm ocean waters. Climate change, caused primarily by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, is heating ocean temperatures, altering polar vortex dynamics that can bring frigid Arctic air to lower latitudes, increasing the amount of moisture the atmosphere can hold (and then dump as snow or rain), and driving sea level rise, which increases coastal flooding risk. None of this, of course, could prevent Bostonians from seeking out some Dunkin’. (Storm: Washington Post $, AP, AP, Boston Globe $, Washington Post $, Bloomberg $; Snow totals: Boston Globe $; Outages: Boston Globe $, Axios, Washington Post $; Climate connections: Bloomberg $, Boston Globe $, Washington Post $, Earther, MarketWatch; Dunkin’: WCVB; Photos: Axios; Climate Signals background: Winter storm risk increase)