Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson community reacts to abnormal weather patterns in Boston

Emerson+community+reacts+to+abnormal+weather+patterns+in+Boston
Annie Zhou

Bostonians are no strangers to bizarre winters, keeping their coats and snow boots readily accessible in the winter months—but this year, everything seems to have changed for the warmer.

January in the Northeast typically brings the season’s coldest temperatures and heaviest snow to Boston. It’s not unusual to see blizzard conditions during the month, yet, in recent weeks, city residents have felt temperatures climb as high as the 50s. 

On top of these unusually high temperatures, large quantities of rain have caused frequent flooding throughout the city, including a high tide in the late morning on Jan. 13, the fourth-highest water level ever recorded at the Boston NOAA Tide Gauge, near the Waterfront.

The temperature fluctuations have contributed to periods of bitter cold and snow followed by days of heavy rains and vice versa. That has resulted in elevated water levels along the coast,  the Charles River, and its tributaries.

This seesaw weather pattern prompted Boston Mayor Michelle Wu to release a statement warning residents to be mindful of dangerous weather conditions two weekends ago.

“As Boston prepares for a bitterly cold weekend, we urge all our residents to prepare, make arrangements to stay warm, and look out for one another,” said Wu.

Adding to the problems the cold temperatures and increased flooding have caused Boston residents, the MBTA Greenline was shut down from Jan. 16 to 29, making it a challenge to navigate the city and stay out of the elements. 

Many Emerson students noted these unusual weather conditions and the unprecedented challenges they caused, attributing them to climate change.

“[The weather] causes some inconveniences getting on the train,” said Hayden Katz, a senior visual media arts major. “I would assume climate change is the big thing [causing the weather changes and] more volatile weather patterns over recent years.”

Reid Blaise, a first-year visual media arts major, came to a similar conclusion. 

”I’ve seen in recent years there have been record highs and lows throughout the seasons,”  Blaise said.

Dr. Jon Honea, associate professor and director of the Honors Program whose research focuses on the influence of environmental change, is no stranger to the unusual weather patterns. 

“The weather has been pretty erratic,” Honea said. “To be able to attribute stuff to climate change, generally what the folks working on that do is just look at the distribution of weather over the historical record.” 

Examining historical records in the Northeast is a prime example of proving an evident change in climate. From 1895 to 2011, temperatures rose overall by 2 degrees Fahrenheit and is projected to increase from 4.5 to 10 by 2080. 

“We have a couple [of] hundred years here in the Northeast of [distribution of weather] documented,” Honea explained, within the context of Boston. “Then we just look to see what is the current pattern and how that deviates from the past.” 

Honea also noticed how the drastically different weather patterns in Boston affect members of the Emerson community.

“If we have a flood, or even an unusually large snow event, especially if it happens on a Sunday when not as many of the plows are working, then it’s going to affect people’s lives for sure,” said Honea. 

Micah Riche, a first-year visual media arts major, described the struggle a commuter might face trying to get to school through intense weather elements.

“I imagine that lots of snow impacts people’s ability to drive. Same with flooding,” Riche said.“If the roads are completely flooded, you pretty much can’t drive. And if the snow or flooding impacts public transit, then that will really mess up someone’s commute.” 

The Greenline has returned to normal services, but the MBTA says that snow, ice, and debris are the main cause of delays and disruptions during the winter season.  

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About the Contributor
Sam Shipman, Staff Writer
Sam Shipman (He/Him) is a freshman journalism major from Natick, Massachusetts. He currently is a Staff Writer for the Berkeley Beacon. When he's not reporting he can be found listening to music or spending time with friends.

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