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Old 06-07-2010, 11:21 PM   #41
kennedy
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Re: Proposed Boston flood barrier

Hey, guess what! I have a solution, too!

Two solutions, actually!

1. We all recycle, walk, bike, and live in urban communities to prevent rising sea levels.

2. We colonize the rest of the Solar System. Our next barrier: how to stop the Sun from exploding!

2.5 We ask the ocean very nicely if it will please go back to the poles and turn into ice.
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Old 11-12-2012, 06:05 AM   #42
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Storm surge in Boston

There was a recent article in the New York Times about the flooding of the Brooklyn Battery tunnel, which has 100 million gallons of salt water in it. The article mentioned that the Department of Homeland Security has developed a plug (filled with water) to serve as a barrier against tides and storm surges at tunnel entrances.

Seems to me that Boston is similarly vulnerable to high water from a superstorm, and ought to start planning how to armor MBTA and highway tunnels against catastrophe. The MTA in New York has three (diesel-powered) pump trains to pump out the subway tunnels, does Boston even have one such train?

The armoring also applies to buildings proximate to the harbor, where a surge could flow through their front door into their basements.
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Old 11-12-2012, 07:07 AM   #43
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Re: Storm surge in Boston

I am curious of the vulnerability of Boston to flooding. While I have heard and understand the vulnerability of Kenmore. I'm not so familiar with Boston and the Harbor in and off itself. Most storms comes from the West and the South. Surges tend to come in the direction of the storm or if the area is especially vulnerable like Kenmore and the entrances.

But what about other parts of the tunnel and tunnels like the Central Artery? How possible can a storm have to bring to hit us in those ways?
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Old 11-12-2012, 07:15 AM   #44
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Re: Storm surge in Boston

On the topic; here's a 2010 article from the Globe on the threat of rising waters in Boston

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/id..._from_the_sea/
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Old 11-12-2012, 08:54 AM   #45
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Re: Storm surge in Boston

The Globe article explains the design of the Spaulding, in which utilities were not put in the basement, but located above the 500 year flood.
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Old 11-12-2012, 10:21 AM   #46
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Re: Storm surge in Boston

We're not nearly as vulnerable as NYC. Reasons:

-- Boston Harbor empties much faster to open ocean than New York Harbor. Mouth of our harbor is wider and much closer, so we don't get the high-tide-piled-upon-high-tide effect that Sandy had in NYC...where the previous high tide never abated at all before the second high doubled it up. Long Island Sound with a surge coming from due east traps all that water for 100+ miles in length with only a 4-6 mile mouth vs. 6-7 mile length and 4-5 mile mouth for Boston Harbor. It's not impossible, but it takes a surge a hell of a lot more than Sandy to do it.

-- We're less pinned in than NYC. The Lower Bay of NYC is narrow and close; Upper Bay has an extremely narrow mouth to empty into the Lower Bay. And unlike us those inner bays directly abut open ocean and don't have a deeper transition zone like the Outer Bay here. That means a surge piles up frighteningly fast entering their bays, and in the case of the Upper Bay an agonizingly slow drain-out of Hoboken and Jersey City. If we did get a perfect surge into the Harbor we'd have much more time to evacuate and defend than Staten Island and Lower Manhattan.

-- Barrier Islands. Boston Harbor is chopped up by so many harbor islands and rock outcrops that there isn't a single straight line from the mainland into open ocean that doesn't hit additional land. If you're counting smaller outcrops: multiple pieces of land. NYC has nothing protecting it in the Lower Bay except Sandy Hook and Breezy Point, which of course were so completely inundated they did nothing. The Bronx is better-protected from a straight shot and fast surge via Long Island Sound...the CT shoreline got it much much worse. But that's counterbalanced by the tide drainage issues with the Sound, so they get a slower rise that just doesn't abate for multiple tides.

-- The Cape. Cape's much thicker a barrier than Fire Island, Long Beach, and the Rockaways for south-facing inundation on Long Island. NJ's barrier islands were similarly impotent Sandy overwhelmed that protection. There's almost nothing other than a tsunami that's going to overwhelm down Cape.

-- Hull and Winthrop. They're positioned like your fingers making a "C", and absorb the due-east and NNE winds/surges that the Cape doesn't. They get fucked up in storms so we don't have to. Nahant acts as a secondary shield for NW surges.

-- Wind direction. Hurricanes and Nor'easters usually don't blow in a killshot direction towards us where they'd thread the needle from open ocean through the least-protected part of the Harbor. It's not how they spin or where 90%+ of the storm tracks put them. They're usually pulling out to sea and heading for Nova Scotia before the surge comes in that direction. NYC and NJ are angled in the same way that North Carolina is, so the odds are higher that a storm maintaining its strength and hugging the coast instead of taking the typical ENE turn will do similar damage as hurricanes often do to North Carolina and its barrier islands. Not to say it's impossible, but a storm has got to have a really really counterintutive track to throw a killshot surge on a straight line to Boston. Sandy's track wasn't counterintuitive...it's size and hybrid-ness were. It's upper South Shore (Scituate, Hull, etc.) and Gloucester/Rockport that face the ESE direction outside of Cape protection that NYC/NJ and the Chesapeake do. And that's why they got fucked up by the surge in Hurricane Bob, Blizzard of '78, etc. while Boston Harbor didn't. (I'll discount 1938 as apples-oranges because lack of warning was the main factor in that destruction.)


Our flood risks tend to be rain-related like the Flood of '96 where inland drainage and shitty soil absorption do us in. The Charles and Mystic, even when dammed, aren't great at draining when there's an inland inundation at the source. The Muddy River is infamous for flooding at the drop of a hat, and we get a shitload of trees overturning and flooded basements when saturated soil turns to jello consistency. Especially in the Back Bay landfill zone where it's still resting on tidal flat mush. The good news is that's a much slower rise than a storm surge. The bad news is it's more frequent, and will be more prevalent with wild weather swings (especially flash snowmelt).



As for the tunnels, we don't have that many at the level of risk NYC has. We don't have subways hugging the harbor (i.e. nothing along Atlantic Ave.). The Sumner and Callahan mouths spit out further inland on both sides than a Harbor inundation would reach. The Big Dig, Pike Tunnel, Ted, and Transitway have modern flood controls. Big Dig also has portals built into the sides of artificial hills and that rise in the roadway after the inclines down, so its geometry prevents inundation outside the exit ramps (plus the pump system is overbuilt). The Red Line does have steel flood doors just south of South Station to protect it from a Ft. Point Channel inundation.

Aquarium, SS, and Maverick are the only 3 stops where an inundation is within reach of the station entrances (and Maverick is above sea level just enough to be a non-factor). SS lobby does get pretty drippy in rain events and would be vulnerable to Ft. Point overtopping the Financial District (which it does routinely on the Southie side...very rarely on the SS side). But Aquarium doesn't ever seem to get wet even in rain, and the Silver Line stops are far enough inland that it would probably take a >100-year flood overwhelming the Seaport district to even reach the station entrances. And North Station is well-protected by the Charles Dam and the Green/Orange superstation and relocated GL tunnel being grafted onto the Garden basement at shallow depth and connected to that building's modern pumping.


Of course...rain events are risky here. Especially the Green Line where we live and die with the sandbags at the Fenway portal preventing Kenmore from getting destroyed like it was in 1996 and 1962. They definitely need strong flood doors there. And we saw in the Floods of 2010 how poorly the downtown transfer stations hold their water. And don't get me started about groundwater in the Big Dig.

As for surface, commuter rail isn't at much risk because we don't (yet) go underground like Penn or Grand Central, we don't have any 3rd rail electrification that gets shorted out like Metro North and Long Island RR, and we don't have main layover yards right on the fricking water like LIRR and NJ Transit do. BET is in a sand pit behind the Charles Dam, Widett Circle is out of reach of a Ft. Point inundation, Readville is far inland, and Greenbush and Rockport are the only outer layovers close to water. We don't risk equipment getting destroyed like some of those pictures of Metro North Hudson Line and NJ Transit trains with water up to the top of the wheels. At worst, Red Line Cabot Yard would have to scramble trains parked in the loop area by Ft. Point Channel further back to the Haul Rd. side, and Blue Line may have to evacuate Orient Heights (although no 3rd rail = no short-outs if they drop the pantographs on the parked trains).



So, yeah, I think we do have some work to do, but it tilts more to the 100-year rain, snow, and saturation events than shoreline inundation. Not that we shouldn't be planning for that, but it's a clear #2 on the flood worry list here as opposed to NYC which has got to get majorly prepared for more Sandys.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:12 AM   #47
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Re: Storm surge in Boston

F-line, thanks for the detailed and informative post.

Some tidal information for Boston:

15.1 feet highest water recorded, blizzard of 1978
10.27 feet mean higher high water
9.6 feet mean high water
5.2 feet mean sea level
12.47 feet highest annual tide? (that's the tide height for Thursday around noon, this week)

Analysis of surges for the Perfect Storm, Blizzard of '78, and Hurricane of '38.
http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/box/PS.htm

If sea levels rise two feet at Boston by 2100, then the highest annual tide would be equal to the water level in the Perfect Storm, and just below the 15 feet for the Blizzard of '78.

If you were to add a storm surge of 3-4 feet, which would not be that extraordinary, plus 2-3 waves within the inner harbor, on top of a 15 foot high tide, I think you would have at least five feet of water over the top of the embankments.
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Old 11-13-2012, 01:18 PM   #48
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Re: Storm surge in Boston

F-Line covered it pretty well. I'd add that Sandy was not a 'Frankenstorm.' It was remarkably large in area, but not particularly strong. By the time it made landfall, it was dropping below Hurricane status. The flooding in New York was a function of the geometry of the shoreline. The New York Bight formed by New Jersey and Long Island causes storm surges to be funneled right into New York City, amplifying the height of the water. If the same storm had hit Boston square on, the storm surge would have been much smaller. We should all know now that weather sells, and the media will pimp every storm they can to catch eyeballs. When the weather report became 'Storm Central!!!,' you know accurate reporting was kicked to the side of the road.
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Old 11-13-2012, 05:19 PM   #49
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Re: Storm surge in Boston

The storm surge from the 1944 hurricane was four feet in Boston Harbor. The hurricane moved over Point Judith RI on a north/northeast track. Blue Hills recorded a gust of 96 mph from the east. Surge map on site below, you need to scroll.

http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/surge_anim.asp

The re-analysis of the Great Hurricane of 1635 suggests there was a 5+ foot surge in Boston harbor. They are yet unable to re-construct the tides for that date.

http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/Landsea/12Tides.pdf
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Old 09-20-2013, 09:03 PM   #50
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Re: Proposed Boston flood barrier

Does anyone know anything about the new FEMA flood maps?

I was trying to do some research on the Boston area and was very confused. The coast line of the city is designated AE in many places, which means they are at risk of flooding but then the entire land mass seems to be in the clear. Wouldn't much of the downtown Boston area be designated the same as the coastline or just one level better?
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Old 09-21-2013, 04:07 PM   #51
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Re: Proposed Boston flood barrier

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Originally Posted by JohnAKeith View Post
Does anyone know anything about the new FEMA flood maps?

I was trying to do some research on the Boston area and was very confused. The coast line of the city is designated AE in many places, which means they are at risk of flooding but then the entire land mass seems to be in the clear. Wouldn't much of the downtown Boston area be designated the same as the coastline or just one level better?
I believe the various high risk zones indicate there is a 26 percent chance of flooding during the life of a 30 year mortgage. I believe some coastal zones factor in storm waves. The maximum height of the flooding is designated on the maps, and there is a zone where flooding, when it does occur, would be low impact, 1-3 feet.

In East Boston, there is AE zone flooding depicted up from the harbor through what I guess is an old railway cut parallel to Orleans St and up into Bremen St. I couldn't scroll the map all the way to Chelsea Creek, but it may go that far.
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Old 09-22-2013, 06:48 PM   #52
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Re: Proposed Boston flood barrier

Ugh. I dunno. I figured if the coast was AE then the areas closest to the coast would be A, which is the next lesser designation, but it seems it goes right to X which means unclassified or something similar.
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Old 09-22-2013, 07:20 PM   #53
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Re: Proposed Boston flood barrier

Ladies and gentlemen,
An interesting topic to discuss for sure, but as other members have stated (and to paraphrase Anthrax) the threat is not real--despite what all the enviro-freaks would lead you to believe (they should all be, at a minimum, ashamed of themselves).
The massive cost and size of such a project, even if a specific scope of work could be agreed upon, would make it all but impossible to pull off--at least anywhere close to on-time and on-budget (especially with the commonwealth's track record of mismanaging everything and/largely due to all the union hacks that would undoubtedly be involved).
Ain't happenen and ain't necessary.
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Old 09-22-2013, 07:32 PM   #54
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Re: Proposed Boston flood barrier

Exactly! Ice caps grew this year!

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Old 09-22-2013, 08:22 PM   #55
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Re: Proposed Boston flood barrier

lol climate change denial

The politics on the forum can get really wacky I guess.
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Old 09-22-2013, 09:01 PM   #56
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Re: Proposed Boston flood barrier

^lol, a liberal who ignores the facts! You're just as bad as those evangelical christians! Look it up, our ice caps grew by 60% this year!

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Old 09-22-2013, 09:30 PM   #57
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Re: Proposed Boston flood barrier

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^lol, a liberal who ignores the facts! You're just as bad as those evangelical christians! Look it up, our ice caps grew by 60% this year!


Jose Iglesias's batting average has been declining all year, but he had three hits yesterday so obviously it is going up!
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Old 09-22-2013, 09:41 PM   #58
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Re: Proposed Boston flood barrier

Great! I got my data from NASA!! You got yours from a left-wing think tank. I'll take the politically neutral one thank-you-very-much!
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Old 09-22-2013, 10:02 PM   #59
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Re: Proposed Boston flood barrier

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Jose Iglesias's batting average has been declining all year, but he had three hits yesterday so obviously it is going up!

Joe - do not feed the troll. Arguing with this guy is a self inflicted pain much like getting yourself caught in your own zipper.
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Old 09-22-2013, 10:10 PM   #60
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Re: Proposed Boston flood barrier

I wonder how NASA feels about climate change.



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Joe - do not feed the troll. Arguing with this guy is a self inflicted pain much like getting yourself caught in your own zipper.
I suppose this would be a more logical choice.
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