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Snow covers the sand on Craigville Beach
As we like to say, Cape-Codders are a hearty bunch. But this past weekend we were tested.

Last winter was non-existent by New England standards; we had only one significant snowstorm (which played a part in a story about Scott Brown and Ed Markey that I've been meaning to write here.) In 2012, the ground never froze - we were harvesting carrots in February.  This year we've made up for it with snowstorm after snowstorm- the kind of snowstorms where the snow will stick to the salty sand on beaches. The ground froze early in the season. I should have harvested my carrots in November.

Nemo came in Friday evening with a bit of a temper
These trucks were idling in a local hotel parking
lot shortly before they left in small groups to
begin several days of work
Our latest storm, a "nor'easter" that was dubbed "Nemo" by the Weather Channel was severe enough to cause Governor Deval Patrick to call for a travel ban for 24 hours. It was the first such ban since the immediate aftermath of the record-breaking "Blizzard of '78" - back in the days of disco.

In 1978 the travel ban was reactive, coming after hundreds of cars were trapped in the snow along rt. 128 as people tried to leave their jobs in Boston and head home to the suburbs during the storm.  Thirty-five years later, almost to the day, weather forecasting has come a long way. Confidence in the forecast gave MA Governor Patrick the opportunity to be proactive, issuing a travel ban before the snow fell. That probably saved lives, keeping people and cars in place - off the roads - making it safer for public works and public safety personnel to do their jobs.

Like most Cape Cod towns, 80% of the residents of our town were without power for days. NStar having learned some difficult lessons during the past few storms had crews coming in from states all over the eastern part of the country arriving Friday night and through the day Saturday, staying in hotels until the wind gusts died back enough to make it safe crews to get into bucket lifts and repair downed wires and blown transformers. A statement on NStar's website describes their efforts:

Having restored power to over 350,000 customers since the Blizzard of 2013 began, NSTAR is returning its electric system to normal operations as it works to restore power to the last remaining customers.

The strength of the largest number of outside line and tree workers ever assembled in NStar's service area, together with its own 3,000 employees, has allowed the company to move up its regional estimated time of restoration by a full day.

Downed wires across rt. 28 in Hyannis
Unlike most storms my own house did not lose power. We did, however, lose cable TV and internet, but we had heat and thus played host to family and friends. We dove deep into everyone’s DVD collections … remember NYPD Blue? We all got the chance to be reacquainted with Andy Sipowicz -- for hours and hours…

Nuclear Power Plant Loses Power

During the storm we became aware that our local nuclear power plant needs electricity to generate electricity. The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant is located "over the bridge" in the town of Plymouth which abuts the other side of the Cape Cod Canal. The plant is always a concern to Cape-Codders, many of us are still not sure where we'd evacuate to if there was a nuclear emergency as it isn't far from one of the two bridges over the Cape Cod Canal.

 The plant is now back online. According the Cape Cod Times the plant's management issued a statement:

The plant will be returned to full service after “maintenance and comprehensive surveillance activities” are completed, according to the statement.

The plant lost power at 9:17 p.m. Friday, and the plant was automatically shut down, according to the Times archives.

The plant's diesel generators kicked in twice during the storm due to weather-related power outages, but there was no impact to plant workers or the public, Wightman's statement reads.

So there is potential for danger - or rather, impact - to plant workers or the public when the plant has to use its generators?

Nemo Breaches Barriers

Nemo tore through coastal communities fueling powerful waves loaded with rocks and sand that tore through houses and flooded streets, causing serious erosion to beaches and dunes and in some areas actually redrawing the shoreline.  

Chatham’s barrier beach was breached several years ago, destroying summer cottages and creating a vulnerability to the waters of the open ocean. Nemo created a new breach in another area of the barrier beach changing the shoreline and jeopardizing important shellfish:  

Coastal geologist Graham Giese said the deterioration of this section of barrier beach is part of a process in which erosion and wave action gradually pushes sand west toward Nantucket Sound, eventually rejoining Morris Island on the mainland to Monomoy Island.
Keon was concerned that migrating aprons of sand might be burying valuable quahog and bay scallop beds.
"I feel like we dodged a bullet," said Shellfish Constable Renee Gagne after a fisherman made the trip out to the new break Wednesday and said the quahogs were safe.
But bay scallop seed that the town propagated and planted was likely lost, either buried or killed off by colder water temperatures.
"I don't have high hopes for their survival," she said.
Last year seals were spotted inside the barrier – coming in through the breach, and as we’ve learned on Cape Cod, where there are seals, there are sharks.  

Global Warming – “NASA Proves it False.”

Shortly before the storm hit, I was debating global warming with a very right-leaning colleague.  He isn’t interested in discussions of rising seas and more precipitation. He believes NASA and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute has presented evidence that the world might actually be cooling. He believes that storms like this one and winters like the one we are in now, are even further proof that there is no global warming.

He had printed out all 28 pages of this website: Isthereglobalwarming.com.

We all know that these arguments are almost impossible to win. But it's is scary when you consider the context of our conversation was a discussion about designing and implementing policy and legislation regarding recycling.  He is in a position to influence these local decisions.  

Oh, did I mention he had printed a dozen copies of the 28 page document – one-sided.


Snow in forecast for Saturday.

Bucket truck from Florida

Rt. 28 next airport

snow art


Originally posted to 51 Percent on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 03:30 AM PST.

Also republished by DKOMA, Massachusetts Kosmopolitans, and Community Spotlight.

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