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Attention, England: No, half of Boston is not under water

Some gormless git named Harley Tamplin, who writes for the UK version of the Metro, writes today:

People living in the city of Boston, Massachusetts have got it pretty rough right now.

Not only are they dealing with the aftermath of a blizzard and horrifyingly low temperatures, but now half the city is underwater.

Glub, glub.

H/t Patrick Maguire.

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Comments

Didn't know we had 352 Cities and towns in MA

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Boston, MA=Boston, Massachusetts

Your pedantic comment would only be accurate if they had written "Boston and Massachusetts" instead of "Boston, Massachusetts" so per the grammar Nazi rules you have now lost a rank.

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And it´s 351.

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Speak Weird, R-Dropping Version of English".

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When did the lowly word 'portion go pro? It seems nobody is satisfied with using portion anymore... or am I blowing this out of proportion?

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Because snow is a form of water, right?

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Luckily for us, most of this water is in a crystalline form.

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Really can't blame the guy if he was watching local news for the past few days you can see where he's coming from.

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Everybody local knew that all those scenes were from a relatively small period of time just on the day of the storm (the tide came in and ... the tide went out!).

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(the tide came in and ... the tide went out!)

You can't explain that!

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My brother gets a Boston news station on his cable feed, so he called the other day.

He knows Boston well enough to know that it was a little overwrought ... but he also knew that these floods were in the area that my husband works and could not be far from where I work.

I told him that it was like the time that our cousin was working the dorm desk in 1980 and all the east coast families were calling in a panic over the big St. Helens blast. Scenes of volcanic devastation are novel and will be played over and again. Scenes of a major city being slurpee flooded are novel will be likewise be played over and again.

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The UK Metro technically is not the UK's version of the Metro, in that they are two different companies. Same concept, though it should be noted that the UK's version is the most widely read newspaper in the UK, being read wherever the trains go.

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Isn't roughly 1/2 of Boston's geographic area waterways of various sorts?

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My office area did not flood, but was close to areas that flooded. The building that I work in is on the original land mass of the "peninsula".

My husband works in Fort Point and, well, yeah. Fill = flood.

Areas in and around downtown are extensively filled. In other neighborhoods, it varies.

Areas of fill are: Back Bay, South Bay, Waterfront, Fort Point, Fan Pier, North Station, Charlestown "Neck", Logan Airport and portions of other areas of the city (East Boston, Dorchester, etc.)

IMAGE(http://www.kuan.net/archives/boston1630overlay-cleaned.gif)

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That what BostonDog is referring to is all the square miles of Boston Harbor, the Charles, etc. that are already water, not what Boston could look like in 20 or 50 years if we don't build that barrier along the harbor islands.

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Don't get me started on that. Even if all the moneyed interests pay for it, it will destroy the ecology of the harbor and shunt flooding into other areas in ways that will make it nearly useless.

Maladaptation 101. We should look to Seattle and how they raised their city out of the Duamish Mudflats instead.

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as do some places in the Netherlands. Venice has either built one or is in the process of doing so.

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The problem is that the Massachusetts coastline is flat and punctuated with estuarine rivers. It might work if you built it to Gloucester and down to the Cape. Maybe.

Just look at a map. Neponset. Fore River. Back River. Bell Isle Marsh. Rumney Marsh. North River. Parker River. Danvers/Crane River. Etc. Etc. That means FLANKING and backflow.

NYC would do great with a barrier because Manhattan sits in a fjord. The Netherlands have also built theirs along very large rivers - although the Netherlands is starting to turn away from hard infrastructure and toward natural flood control measures. We don't have those singular large rivers. We have small rivers. Lots of small rivers.

New Bedford and Providence are also within geographically steeper riverine systems.

Then there is the cost. Unlike Venice, we don't have such huge barrier islands as Lido. MA has far more serious issues to spend adaptation funds on than a giant freaking boondoggle meant to protect wealthy interests in a single community at the expense of flooding out smaller communities, destroying critical natural protective infrastructure in the process, etc.

"lets bulild a wall - walls are SEXY - walls are BIG". Let's have an Olympics! That'd be great. Same egomonument problem when you drill down on it.

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I've seen you spar on this almost every time it comes up. Your misunderstanding seems to be that a harbor storm barrier is not designed to be a permanent reinforcement against the slow pace of sea level rise over geological time. It is deployed/closed temporarily to prevent storm surges like we just saw from flooding i.e. the Seaport or T tunnels, causing millions in damage by submerging the city over hours. So what if the Neponset swells during that same time (it was going to anyway)? The ocean water won't creep from there into Downtown Crossing. The surface area it's being spread over diffuses what you're talking about further from the city. Water rushing in from the harbor to Long Wharf won't just magically crawl in from Danvers during the storm!

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Yours. Check local topography, and try again. Or, better yet REREAD what I wrote.

I misunderstand nothing on this. I deal professionally in climate adaptation. Thanks for the wallsplain, though.

The problem is the surge barrier will not work like it would in a river or fjord other necked down situation. I happened across the barrier in the Venetian lagoon while cycling on Lido and got a good look at it and the interpretive posters. While that might be said to be similar, it is definitely not similar to Boston Harbor. The lagoon is an ancient flooded river delta with very large islands spanning the inlet and substantial shoulders on the mainland. It doesn't take much to wall that off from the sea in an emergency.

In contrast, a giant sexy gleaming wall in Boston Harbor would, at best, push water from a surge away from Boston WHILE the surge would pour into the MANY RIVERS AND STREAMS AND MARSHES THAT FLANK IT. That water would push back around the back side and into the Mystic and other waterways, causing flooding. Look at a surge map for Christ's sake.

Or are you too busy admiring the giant concrete curves of OMG A BIG WALL to understand how this works? Or is it all the public money to be spent to protect one community with money that would be better spent on protecting the other 350 cities and towns from more imminent hazards?

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Since you're the top person on the planet to work on this, you should drop a line to the dozens of environmental planning experts who have worked on the detailed proposals for the harbor barrier options (which, I but deign to presume, include reinforcing areas that would surge from the harbor into the peripheral estuaries). It reflects poorly on Boston as an educational mecca that you are the FIRST person in over a decade to spot this exhaust port in the Death Star trench!

At their seaside offices at the University of Massachusetts Boston, the professors who are spending the year studying the practicality of a barrier said they’re considering costs, potential environmental damage, effects on commercial shipping and fishing, and possible locations. They will also be looking at how a barrier might affect the ecology of harbor waters and marshes, the potential threat to the quality of its expensively cleaned waters, and the possible side effects of changes to natural currents.

“It’s a very complex project, with all kinds of economic, environmental, and social consequences,” said Paul Kirshen, a civil engineer and professor at the university’s School for the Environment.

“This isn’t just an environmental issue,” says James W. Hunt III, the city’s chief of environmental and energy services. He ticks off the agencies currently involved in the effort: the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security, the office of Environmental and Energy Services, the transportation department, the public health commission.

I'm so impressed that you could single-handedly run and manage all of these departments in a way far superior than is being done at present, all thanks to your intimate knowledge of topographic maps!

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(sorry)

But I think there's merit in discussing a barrier between Hull and Winthrop. The Afsluitdijk in the Netherlands is 20 miles long, this would be 2 miles (yes, the Zuiderzee is/was shallower). There would have to be strategic strengthening of low-lying areas in Winthrop and Hull, but for the most part, there are areas above 15' AMSL which could deal with the next 50+ years of sea level rise and protect the majority of the city. Sure, water will come in to Rumney Marsh, but wouldn't make it in to the Dowtown/the Charles basin where the majority of the infrastructure you want to protect is. Would it be a visual and ecological blight? Yes. Would it cost a lot? Yes. Would it be preferable to abandoning the city? Probably also yes.

And, the Charles River Dam basically already does this. The dam is nice for keeping water in the basin, but necessary for keeping stormwater out. That's why it has huge pumps: if there's a storm surge and it has to stay shut, the pumps can pump out rainwater (luckily the Charles is a piddly little river) while the tide is too high to let it out naturally. (The tides are a huge benefit to Boston, with 10+' of tides, you don't have to worry as much about where to put runoff.)

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And it seems a surge would impact areas like the Rumney Marsh whether the barrier is built or not.

I'm not familiar with all the rivers the previous poster noted but I find it hard to believe that a storm surge blocked at the entrance to Boston Harbor is going to somehow still flood the Fore or Neponset rivers.

That's a lot of ground to cover if the water is actually traveling over ground and not thru the harbor.

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@SwirlyGirl - my architect friends all thank you for that perfect term! Warmed the cockles of their freezing cold hearts.

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are children from other places who can't even tell you where Morton Street is. Yet it's the British press who are morons?

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While I didn't read the Globe as closely as I once might've over the past couple of days (there's only so much Killer Death Storm news I can read), I don't recall anybody there saying that as of today, half of Boston was under water - let alone even at the height of the storm.

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Call me a cynic, but why would a man with a vested financial interest in real estate in this town ever let his childish minions tell the world his beloved adopted city is under water?

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near the BPL as happening in the South End a week or so back.

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For weeks, the Brit press has been fainting over cold and snow in England and Scotland. Just checking The Sun, I see sub-zero, snow and ice, along with certainty of heart attacks and strokes. We're nothing special, just part of the world of panic.

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Half of London is under water!

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is also Underground!!!

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They use Celsius. 0 C would feel downright balmy right now.

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until you reach -40F which equals -40C.

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carbon dioxide either solidifies or sublimates, depending on which way you are headed.

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Of course; let's not get too enchanted with cleverness. We should assume nearly all know who is in the C and F worlds. However, -10C is roughly 14F, plenty cold enough to turn water in streets and on fields into ice and enough to freeze the homeless or drunk out overnight. The Brits have a sensible concern here. Pip, pip.

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That -10 is for the Highlands of Scotland, so if you are in Corrour, you might be in trouble. London will bottom out at 2 tonight. Still cold, but no ice.

I mean, it is the Sun, so they have to sensationalize, but still.

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Oh, please, it's the Sun. They're not very far from The Daily Fail.

Also, you know how we get those freeze warnings at the end of summer/fall? -10C DOES warrant some attention for an area that usually sees +5-8C winter temps. Same as 10F sustained temps for Boston warrant headlines.

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What's with the Anglophobic hate speech in this post? Someone needs sensitivity training.

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Was afraid nobody would get it. I dunno, I just thought some tosser claiming half the city is underwater when my own lying eyes tell me it isn't is kind of offensive, journalistically speaking.

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Haven't white Anglo-Saxon whatevers taken enough shit in history?

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the worst of them are Anglo-Normans. Except the Royals, who are Germans.

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Those people have invaded America twice. The last time they were here, they burned down the White House.

Why *exactly* are you so friendly with the English, anyway?

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the last time the British invaded they burned down the Ed Sullivan show.

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