Imagine the traffic on the turnpike the day before the hurricane hits

The state has released a map of evacuation zones for major hurricanes.

The map shows areas that could get whacked by worst-case storm surges - with the brownish areas those that would likely get flooded in Category 1 storms, yellow in Category 2 storms and green in Category 3 and 4 storms (you can also download more detailed community maps).

The best way to be prepared for the possibility of a hurricane Evacuation is to know your evacuation zone and develop your emergency plan (such as your destination and travel routes) ahead of time.



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This explains a lot

Both I and my neighbors have had dreams about launching boats off the raised retaining wall at the corner of my driveway.

I guess we all read the land well.

Last time Boston got a direct

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Last time Boston got a direct hit by a major hurricane and had biblical flooding in the 1930s the world didn't end.

Ocean almost an inch higher now

or something like that. Many parkways were built in flood planes in the 1930s along with much development since giving water less room to pool, so it will spread out more.

It would be interesting to

It would be interesting to compare how much more developed the waterfront is now with how it was in the 1930s. At least, that was the issue that came out in Manhattan during Sandy. Back in the 1930s (and today, any buildings still extant on the waterfront from pre-WWII construction,) the buildings were more resilient in both construction and uses than they are today. The water washed in, and washed out, of these buildings with the actual structure designed to withstand that. The problems arose when people put incompatible uses at the ground floor, and below grade (electrical and comm. equipment, art galleries, etc.) The new South Ferry Station in Battery Park was destroyed by flooding. Meanwhile, the old South Ferry Station, which also flooded, survived relatively unscathed. The MTA was able to reconnect the signals and re-power the third rail and that's what's being used again while the new station is rebuilt (this time with flood gates--oy!)

In the year or so after Sandy I went to a few charrettes which suggested that the entire mid-Atlantic/Northeast waterfront, from Atlantic City up to New Haven should be restored to tidal flats. Ahahahaha! One drive up I-95 will tell you that would cost mega-bazillions, and isn't likely to happen any time in my lifetime. Look at New Jersey. Large areas of the Jersey Shore completely destroyed during Sandy, and those people were allowed to go back in and rebuild exactly what was there.

To rebuild a residence that

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To rebuild a residence that is in a flood zone requires elevating the home above the base flood elevation. If the home is not elevated then the mortgage on the home is not valid for any VA or FHA guarantees. Most banks will not write mortgages ineligible for federal mortgage insurance.
If the homeowners has enough cash of their own to rebuild and doesn't require a mortgage any future buyer will be required to elevate the home to get a mortgage.


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The only hurricane on the record books that was within 100 miles of Boston and was a minimum of Category 3 was in 1869. You can see it and search around more here.

And if we're talking about any strength hurricane at all within 50 miles of the city, there are only 32 storms...and interestingly none of them were in the 30's at all.

Ah, I see

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So by Boston got a "direct hit"...we're talking about Boston in 1938 when it was located in the Berkshires?

I see what was wrong with my calculations now. I didn't account for an anon talking out of their ass when it comes to how bad we had it and how easily we made it through.

In the meantime, storm surge from the 1938 "New England Hurricane" was around 10 feet. I think that's the yellow area of these maps. So, "biblical flooding" and "the world didn't end" are because we barely slid by and had the least of what these maps were setup to define.

Can't trust wikipedia

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Local lore is that the hurricane wrecked eastern Long Island, churned up the Narragansett, and royally messed up Providence.

Of course, I am also no expert in meteorology or storm history, and I do know that the memory of that storm seems to be stronger than the storm itself, at least in Eastern Massachusetts.

Catherine Hepburns family home was swept to sea.

Yes. Providence made special steel barriers to lower for future disasters.

There may still be watermarks on period buildings there. The damage was made worse because the ground was saturated from prior rain.

There may still be a few nurse logs in forests that are carcasses of that storm.

I mean, jeeze this wrecked the saw timber industry in southern New England decades. We had insurance companies and damage assement capabilities back then and by all accounts it was the worst thing to hit eastern New England since independence.

Maybe there are some exculpatory technicalities about just how rootin tootin bitchin it was compared with whatever but it was well lodged in the memories of those in its path.

The majority of the storm damage was from storm surge and wind. Damage was estimated at $308 million, (the equivalent of $4.8 billion adjusted for inflation in 2011 dollars), making it among the most costly hurricanes to strike the U.S. mainland. It is estimated that if an identical hurricane struck in 2005 it would have caused $39.2 billion (2005 dollars) in damage, due to changes in population and infrastructure.

Approximately 600 people died in the storm in New England, most in Rhode Island, and up to 100 people elsewhere in the path of the storm. An additional 708 people were reported injured.

In total, 4,500 cottages, farms, and other homes were reported destroyed. An additional 25,000 homes were damaged. Other damages included 26,000 automobiles destroyed and 20,000 electrical poles toppled. The hurricane also devastated the forests of the Northeast, knocking down an estimated 2 billion trees in New York and New England. Freshwater flooding was minimal, however, as the quick passage of the storm decreased local rainfall totals, with only a few small areas receiving over 10 inches (250 mm).

Over 35% of New England's total forest area was affected. In all, over 2.7 billion board feet of trees fell because of the storm. 1.6 billion board feet of the trees were salvaged. The Northeastern Timber Salvage Administration (NETSA) was established to deal with the extreme fire hazard that the fallen timber had created. In many locations, roads from the fallen tree removal were visible decades later and in some cases, became trails still used today. The New Haven Railroad from New Haven to Providence was particularly hard hit, as countless bridges along the Shore Line were destroyed or flooded, severing rail connections to badly affected cities (such as Westerly, Rhode Island) in the process.

More than 50 people perished on Long Island in the storm’s wake. All the shore lines were very vulnerable to the high winds and flooding waves, and anyone who was along or near the shores was directly in harm's way. Due to the lack of technology back in 1938, Long Island residents were not warned of the hurricane's arrival,[18] leaving little to no time to prepare or evacuate. Long Island was struck first, before New England, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Quebec, earning the storm the nickname the "Long Island Express."

The winds reached up to 150 mph with waves surging to around 25–35 feet high. Ten new inlets were created on eastern Long Island. The surge rearranged the sand at the Cedar Point Lighthouse so that the island became connected to what is now Cedar Point County Park. The surging water created the present-day Shinnecock Inlet by carving out a large section of barrier island separating Shinnecock Bay from the Atlantic. The storm toppled the landmark steeple of the tallest building in Sag Harbor, the Old Whaler's Church. The steeple has not been rebuilt. Wading River suffered substantial damage. In Greenport, on the North Fork of Long Island, the storm blew down the movie theater located on Front Street. The fishing industry was destroyed, as was half of the apple crop.

Compared to Providence

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Or the no name storm of 1991 (that's right, Junger, I won't give it the name you gave it), it wasn't that bad.

I worked on a project where we were looking for coverage of the '38 storm with damage in Roslindale. I've seem worse. But yeah, a serious hurricane hit Boston.

How did I end up arguing against myself!

My dad, then an 11-year-old

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My dad, then an 11-year-old kid in East Cambridge, has told us of his memories of his church's steeple ending up laid out down the center aisle (St Hedwig's) and his older brother helping scuttle boats in the Charles to protect them from the winds. Though Boston didn't get the hit that LI and Providence did, you'll hear lots of stories from his now-disappearing generation. It definitely gave them - or at least my dad - a solid respect for the power of a hurricane.

(Granted, I believe I've read that St. Hedwig's was the only local steeple to come down, and it being his own church would have made a particularly strong impression on him.)

Forward speed was a factor in 1938

When it barreled up the Narragansett, it may not have still been a Cat 3, but it was moving north at 60mph.

As for "Didn't hit Boston", please look up why Deer Island isn't an island anymore (hint: humans didn't fill it in).

That's called a tombolo.

As for "Didn't hit Boston", please look up why Deer Island isn't an island anymore (hint: humans didn't fill it in).

I didn't know '38 made that causeway but the north shore coast has a number of tombolos. Boston was one. Nahant, Winthrop and Marblehead Neck all come to mind.

I haven't noticed as many on the south shore. I'm guessing it is related to how specific current patterns deposit sand with amplification by seasonal storm cycles,

There's a nascent tombolo trying to join Thompson Island to the mainland.

I find it interesting that

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I find it interesting that All of Lower Allston is in the green. And apparently across the street from my house as well.

Not that I expect a cat 3 or 4 hurricane.

I think

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That's because the Charles has some protection from the Charles river dam to keep headwaters out. It would only be inundated during a very high surge.

I'm guessing the precision on these maps is not precise and is as there titles suggest, "evacuation areas" due to storm surge. Since as far as I know there's parts of Southie and Charlestown at elevations above 30 feet or so.

Still, do you want to be stuck on the newest Boston harbor island with no utilities and all the fund stuff washed around you from the commercial areas being under water?

My guess is not, which is why this recommendation is telling you to get the fuck out of town.

I was surprised

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by the inclusion of the Beacon/Bay State fork off at Charlesgate West in Kenmore Square in the Green Zone as well.

My husband lived there for years pre-marriage, that whole block went a few inches underwater in a decent thunderstorm. I saw water rise over the bottoms of car doors there numerous times, over buildings' bottom steps, flooding their basements.

Of course, if it was dry enough to not flood, Muddy River went stagnant and became a Mosquito Jamboree.

Somerville and Everett Oasis of safety?

Who would have thought much of Somerville and Everett as an escape from disaster. I'm OK in my part of Arlington as long as the street drain constricting silt filters are removed or destroyed prior to major storms.

Winter Hill for the win.

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My housemate and I have joked about just drinking on the porch until the global warming sea rise hits the bottom of our stairs. I think our plan is on track.

Have the zones been tweaked,

Have the zones been tweaked, or are the maps just new?

I wonder how MEMA is thinking a mass evacuation from Eastern Mass (including the Cape) would be handled. I hope they have more of a plan in place than just those stupid "Evacuation Route" signs. I guess one could take lessons from the Outer Banks, but it would be interesting to see how it would work. Would the Cape bridges be closed to non residents? Run outbound in both directions? Would the Pike also be closed to anything but Westbound traffic? It's interesting to consider.


The state gave funding to global warming preparedness, so this is probably a work product driven off new FEMA flood maps.


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Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes - somebody had to have had an extra cup of coffee or two to come up with that acronym. Might also explain why it's not as fine-grained as the FEMA maps (the "original" parts of South Boston, i.e., Dorchester Heights, would not be covered in water, I'd think (barring that rare Category 197 storm).

My suggestion

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buy bikes or mopeds for the whole family.

Our infrastructure can't handle summer rush hour traffic. Mass evacuations away from the coast will just be a 48 hour parking lot.

Some of this makes no sense...

In Watertown along the Charles, they have evacuations from hilltops and they don't seem to take the Watertown dam into account. (or the Bemis half-dam, or the dam behind Shaw's in Waltham). We've been through river flooding, and the water barely makes it across Pleasant Street between Rosedale and Bacon.

If a storm surge makes it over the Watertown dam —doubtful — it still isn't going to be high enough to reach to Spring and Waverly. It's never going to make it to the hilltop where the main campus at Perkins is.

In Somerville/Arlington/Cambridge along Alewife Brook, they seem to have discounted the depressed riverbanks; it's a long way down to the water along there. In Medford/Winchester, they seem to have forgotten the dam between upper and lower Mystic Lakes.

It's usually between 6 and 12 feet or so.

The purpose of the riverside park strip that edges the Mystic is to be a flood plain buffer.

I covered it last year as far as Winchester center to make material about the Mystic River Greenway system.

Learning to see the old face of the land forms beneath all the monkey junk heaped on it is one of my favorite past times.

And here's a Sunday set of the Mystic River between Downtown and the Dugger Park area.

Looking for an explanation of Zones A, B, and C

and not finding one. The logical guess is that Zone A is the highest risk and would be evacuated even in a relatively mild hurricane, and that B and C only get evacuated for progressively stronger storms. Might be nice to have that clearly explained somewhere. Did I miss something obvious?

Inundation zone map

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Well, the posting here on uhub says that, but I'm not sure where that information comes from.

The state has also published an "inundation zone map" showing which areas might flood based on the strength of the storm. See here: There are different colorings for category 1, 2, 3, and 4+ hurricanes.

My guess is that the evacuation zones are the flooded areas, plus any areas that become islands because of the flooded areas. (For example, Eagle Hill in South Boston which would not flood but is in an evacuation zone). But, that's just a guess.


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But, strangely, they have a separate scheme for Boston and Cambridge than they do for the rest of the state. For places other than Boston and Cambridge we have:

A (Category 1 & 2 hurricanes)
B (Category 3 & 4 hurricanes)

the water is a rising

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I am thankful to be living in the Highland Park area of Roxbury, but it looks like I could go down the end of the block to Jeep Jones Park and watch the water lapping up on the side of the hill along Malcolm X Blvd.

Reminds me a bit of the

Reminds me a bit of the Strangelovean military planners of the Reagan Administration who as part of selling the idea of winning a "limited" nuclear war informed towns in MA where they would evacuate in northern New England.

We're looking OK in JP

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Although, 3 or so years ago when it rained heavily, non-stop for days in March, the underground Stony Brook behind my house flooded all the basements in my neighborhood, including mine. We all had to buy pumps.