GRC in the News | Climate Preparedness, GRC | 01.08.18

Boston Winter Floods are a Sign of Things to Come

A Boston firefighter wades through flood waters from Boston Harbor on Long Wharf in Boston, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. A massive winter storm swept from the Carolinas to Maine on Thursday, dumping snow along the coast and bringing strong winds that will usher in possible record-breaking cold. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

With its gradually sinking, low-lying lands, and development right up to the water’s edge, Boston has long been considered uncommonly vulnerable to rising sea levels.

But that long-term climate forecast became bracingly immediate on Thursday when a powerful winter storm, of a type known to meteorologists as the bomb cyclone, whipped up a record tide that sent waves surging through the streets of downtown Boston.

City officials have begun planning for the worst in recent years, driven by projections that as much as 30 percent of city land could be submerged by the end of the century. Still, many were stunned by the sight of water inundating large swaths of the city’s waterfront Thursday, even as they warned that it could become all too familiar in the years to come.

“What we saw yesterday is absolutely more of what we should expect in the future,” said Bud Ris, a senior adviser to the Boston Green Ribbon Commission, which has been working with city officials to devise strategies to cope with climate change.

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