Chip Ford's 1974 Catalina 22 Restoration Project
Sail #3282  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

No longer winter, but spring's not much better!
A nor'easter that just won't quit
April  17, 2007

A sure sign that spring has arrived in New England is when monsoon season moves in and locks over us.  The rain began on Sunday morning and there's no respite until maybe late Friday or Saturday.  Right now at 6:30 am it's 36° with wind WNW at 10 mph gusting to 35 and increasing, again.  This is "round two" of yesterday's Patriots Day Nor'easter, the meteorologists are telling us this morning.

Yesterday morning my barometer pegged its needle to the bottom stop, 29; it dropped to 28.54 at the height of the storm, hurricane pressure.  It's now at 29.39 and rising, but where else can the pressure go but up?

This storm's arrival was predicted days ago:  "One of the 5 of 10 most powerful nor'easters in the past 50 years" the weathermen were forecasting.  It was to be another convergence of strong weather systems:  one coming up the coast, the other moving in from the west, meeting over New England.  "Maybe another 'Perfect Storm'," we were warned.

Saturday was a picture-perfect spring day, especially for New England:  sunny and in the mid-50s.  I got some work done on Chip Ahoy, expecting to finish up Sunday morning before the nor'easter arrived.

The next morning the pre-dawn sky was ablaze.  "Red in the morning, sailors take warning; red at night, sailors delight" came to mind.  I turned on the TV weather and learned that the rain had already begun falling nearby and was on its way.  I raced out, finished up my work on the boat in preparation just in time.  The rain began half an hour after completion.

The "first round" tapered off around noon yesterday -- the sun even peeked through the clouds for a while.  The experts are now saying that yesterday's weather was technically not a true nor'easter, the the winds were mostly out of the southeast to east.  The low pressure parked itself off Long Island, where it remains.  As it slowly fights the high pressure to our north and moves its way out over the next day or two, the "second round, a true nor'easter" will be building as this morning moves on.  "Round Two" has begun.

Flooding is the biggest problem now, after 5 inches of rain since Sunday and another 2-3 expected today.  Interior rivers and streams flooding is a serious problem, as has been coastal flooding and erosion due to astronomical high tides thanks to a new moon.  I couldn't get out to Marblehead Light at high tide yesterday to take some photos:  the causeway between the town proper and Marblehead Neck was under the waves, closed.

Wally Riddle had the same problem getting out of Nahant, with the Lynn-Nahant causeway cut off, turning Nahant into an island for a few hours around high tide at 11:00 am.  He was finally able to make it over here as planned, so we could pass papers, I could sign the check, and pass ownership of his "Carpe Diem" over to me.

-- Apr. 17, 2007

It seems to be finally over this morning at last.  The sun's back out, the temperature at 7:45 am is 41° and climbing into the 60s later today.  We're supposed to have a beautiful weekend ahead -- warming and sunny -- ultimately climbing into the 80s by Monday.  Welcome to New England!

-- April 20, 2007

Nor'easter's aftermath

Click thumbnails below for a larger picture



"Red in the morning, sailors take warning . . ."
Apr. 15, 2007
Battening down the hatches in preparation.
Apr. 15, 2007
Early morning NE gales gusting over 50 mph.
Apr. 16, 2007
The tarps over my wood racks took a beating.  Fortunately, I suppose, there's little firewood left for them to protect.
Apr. 17, 2007
Boston Herald Photo by Mike Adaskaveg
Apr. 16, 2007
A person runs after a wave crashes against the sea wall at Red Rock on the Lynn Shore Drive (about 3 miles away).
Boston Herald Photo by Mike Adaskaveg
Apr. 16, 2007
Waves crash over the sea wall dwarfing apartment houses on Lynn Shore Drive (about 3 miles away).
Boston Herald Photo by Mike Adaskaveg
April 19, 2007
Ken Webber of Salisbury informs his boss via radio that boats stored for winter on Rt. 1 floated off their dry docks early Wednesday morning.
Boston Herald Photo by Mike Adaskaveg
April 19, 2007
Boats that had been dry-docked for the winter floated down Route 1 in Salisbury yesterday, as workers from Hudson’s Outboard took advantage of high tide to move vessels from flooded storage lots.
Marblehead Reporter photo
by Joseph Puleo
April 19, 2007
Waves cascaded over the Marblehead coast Monday.
More Boston Herald photos   More Marblehead Reporter photos

Spring has officially arrived:
In New England, we call it monsoon season

The Boston Globe
Sunday, April 15, 2007

Region braces for storm, possible flooding
Rains may ease by start of Marathon

By Tracy Jan

A major northeaster was expected to bear down on the Bay State today, dumping more than 4 inches of rain and threatening severe flooding of coastal areas and city streets.

The heavy rain and winds are expected to last all day and should not taper off until around 6 a.m. tomorrow.

Weather and emergency personnel advised people to stay inside and avoid the roads. The Coast Guard warned fishermen not to venture out to sea, where winds will be gusting up to 55 miles per hour and seas will crest to over 20 feet.

"It's going to be pretty rough and stormy out there," said Petty Officer Etta Smith, a Coast Guard spokeswoman.

All of southern New England is on a flood watch, an unusual scenario created by the coincidence of the storm and the highest tides of the year, said Peter Judge, spokesman for the state Emergency Management Agency.

Communities on the Cape, the South Coast, and the North Shore are preparing sand bags and lining up emergency shelters, he said.

Once the coastal flooding wanes, rivers could begin flooding tomorrow and could remain swollen through Wednesday, said Bill Simpson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton. "It's kind of like a one - two punch," Simpson said. "Luckily it's happening over the weekend. If this were happening during a commute, boy, it could be horrendous."

The good news is that the worst of the storm should be over by the time 23,000 runners take their marks in Hopkinton for the Boston Marathon tomorrow. Heated medical tents and buses will be set up along the course, Judge said. Some communities are setting up pumps in case of flooding. Catch basins are being cleared, and trees are being pruned because of expected winds.

Normal spring weather is not expected to return until next weekend, when temperatures are supposed to rise to the low to mid-50s, Simpson said. "But there are no guarantees," he said. "Spring will come eventually, next year. Talk to Al Gore about that."

The Boston Globe
Monday, April 16, 2007

Heavy rain throws wet blanket on region
Many events canceled, but Marathon still on

By Maria Cramer and James Vaznis

No Paul Revere impersonators. No Battle of Lexington reenactments. No parades.

A major storm that brought pounding rain, stinging sleet, and 50-mile-per-hour winds to the region yesterday halted many Patriots Day events that draw Revolutionary War aficionados, but it was not enough to cancel today's Boston Marathon for thousands of participants willing to brave the soggy conditions.

Three to five inches of rain was expected to soak Greater Boston by this morning, the National Weather Service reported . While winds were expected to die down, officials predicted gusts would still whip at 15 to 20 miles an hour.

The downpour compelled the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency to activate its State Emergency Operations Center in Framingham last night to monitor the storm.

"We're watching the high tides coming in, and our initial concern is the potential for coastal flooding," spokesman Paul Judge said. "Over the next couple of days, we could see at least moderate flooding and erosion, and urban street flooding. This is going to be a multi day event, and we have activated 24/7 services, remaining open until the event is over to help the local communities."

The storm prompted Boston officials to cancel this morning's flag-raising ceremony, parade, and reenactment of Paul Revere's ride (alerting residents to the arrival of British combatants in 1775). Yesterday's Red Sox-Angels game also was postponed, but this morning's match up was still scheduled late last evening .

In Lexington, though a planned 5-mile road race today was still on, officials canceled this morning's re enactment of the 1775 Battle of Lexington. The move caused some to reflect on how rain might have affected the revolutionaries, who fought under sunny skies in 50-degree temperatures. "I do find myself wondering if the militia would have canceled their battle," said would-be spectator Noelle Dye, 46, of Charlestown, as she stood at the foot of the Old North Bridge in Concord.

Others decried the cancellation as the result of a society more concerned with comfort than honoring history. "I don't think there are a lot of hardy New Englanders left," said Purdy Bottino, of Plymouth, who spent the weekend in Concord with her husband and friends to partake in Patriots Day activities. "There are a lot of transients now who don't have that hardy New England spirit."

Carl Valente, Lexington's town manager, said officials and re enactors canceled the event because they feared participants could suffer hypothermia, particularly those playing casualties who would have had to lie on cold wet grass during much of the roughly 20-minute battle.

It is believed to be the first time the decades-old event, which would have featured 55 Minutemen and about 125 British soldiers, has been canceled.

"It's very disappointing," Valente said. "This is not only a long-standing event, but it allows Lexington to celebrate its rich history. "

Flood warnings were issued for Essex, Middlesex, and Suffolk counties until 9:30 a.m. today. Warnings also were issued for urban areas in Rhode Island and Connecticut and for some small streams . The storm wreaked havoc on some roads, forcing the state and the city of Revere to close a storm gate across Winthrop Parkway. Authorities rerouted traffic between Winthrop and Revere to local streets. A quarter-mile of Greenough Boulevard in Watertown also was closed because of flooding.

In cities and towns where flooding has historically destroyed property and forced evacuations, officials cleared storm drains and handed out sandbags to worried residents.

In Peabody, Department of Public Works employees had passed out about 2,000 bags by the end of the day.

Camille McKenney, who said her house on Pierpont Street has been flooded twice in the last 11 months, lined about 40 sandbags against the structure and another 40 against a fence in her driveway.

"I'm thinking about having the house raised 4 feet to get me out of this mess," she said. "I'm tired of it. My house is getting ruined."

As of 10:30 p.m., Richard Carnevale, public works director in Peabody, said there was no evident flooding there.

There is potential for coastal flooding today and river flooding tomorrow, said Bill Simpson, spokesman for the National Weather Service in Taunton , who warned that winds would hamper pedestrians, joggers, and especially Boston Marathon runners.

"Running 26 miles in 40-degree weather and a headwind is not as bad as running in torrential downpours," he said. "But, boy, that's going to be a drag."

Runners picking up their race numbers at the Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in Boston yesterday took a stalwart stance against the forecast.

Albert Allen, 62, of Los Angeles, who has run in 22 marathons, some in temperatures above 90 degrees, said he could brave the cold rain in just a short-sleeved shirt and shorts. "I sweat a lot," he said. "I prefer the cold."

He said he worried more about his friends, Antonia Routt, 51, and Adell Williams, 59, also from Los Angeles, who planned to cheer him on from the street. "It's harder on them than it is for us," he said. "At least we're moving."

Sybil Carven, 41, of Kittery Point, Maine, said she would watch the event on television. In the last four years, she has stood dutifully on the streets while her husband, Tim, ran.

"Because of this weather and the fact that I'm nine months pregnant, I'm not going to," she said as she played with her 18-month-old daughter, Caroline, at the convention center. "I feel kind of bad. It's so sad because it's the crowds that carry people through these things."

Tim Carven, 43, an elementary school physical education teacher, said he planned to wear a tight undershirt, a long-sleeved shirt, and thermal underwear to avoid the shivers, though he worried the gear might slow his running.

"If you wear too much, it's going to get waterlogged, and you're going to have to carry it the whole way," he said.

His wife had simple advice for him on how to avoid hypothermia.

"Run fast," she said.

The Boston Herald
Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nor’easter takes Bay State by storm:
Howler floods homes, cuts power

By Heather Schultz

Hundreds were evacuated from flooded homes and thousands were left without power yesterday as record rainfalls and howling winds raked the East Coast for the second day.

“The worst is over,” said the National Weather Service’s Charlie Foley of the nor’easter that first slammed the East Coast early Sunday morning.

Eleven have died, including Lebanon, Maine, resident Donna Dube, 50, and her 4-year-old granddaughter, Saphire Perro, who were swept away by surging floodwaters when they attempted to cross the street, said Lt. Joseph Perron of the Lebanon Police Department.

In Boston, wind yanked off a section of windowed roof at the Mercantile Wharf Building on Atlantic Avenue, where residents were evacuated. The debris crushed a couple of cars parked nearby.

“It’s very distressing - I’ll tell you that,” said a 63-year-old, 25-year resident of the apartments as he sat outside waiting for his sister. “This wind is terrible.”

The noise woke him shortly after 6 a.m., he said, asking not to be named. “I heard something slide down the side of the building.”

Building manager Chris Sullivan said he hoped to let evacuated residents back in late yesterday.

“The plan is evolving as we speak,” he said, surveying the damage. “We’re just trying to make things safe.”

Watching workers take chain saws to the metal and heavy gray plastic panels of roof and the mangled cars, a cop shook his head.

“It’s a good thing it happened when it did,” he said. “And not on the weekend, or during the day.”

The Bay State was pounded by more than 5 inches of rain. Statewide as many as 90,000 customers were without electricity yesterday morning as crews scrambled to restore power.

Crashing waves delivered foam, salt water, sand and debris to the doorsteps of seaside residents from Plymouth to Salisbury.

Coastal flooding at high tide temporarily cut Plum Island off from Newburyport yesterday morning.

National Guard units have been dispatched in 33 trucks and one bus, to perform “evacuation and preparedness missions” in Gloucester, Newbury, Newburyport, Revere, Salisbury, Westfield and Winthrop, said spokesman Maj. Winfield Danielson.

Foley, at the National Weather Service, said high tide could still cause “minor splash-over” as late as this morning, but added that the storm had diminished to occasional rain and cool temperatures.

National Weather Service -- Taunton, MA
Point Forecast:  Marblehead, MA
42.51N -70.88W

Last Update: 4:19 am EDT Apr 18, 2007

Today:  Periods of rain possibly mixed with sleet. Patchy fog before 3pm. High near 40. Breezy, with a north wind between 16 and 24 mph, with gusts as high as 44 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Tonight:  Periods of rain. Low around 35. North wind between 16 and 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

The Boston Herald
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Record rainfall hits the Merrimack Valley hardest
By Jaclyn Fitzgerald

Torrential rains, gusty winds and high tides left several Bay State cities battling flood waters yesterday, with the Merrimack Valley hit the hardest, according to the National Weather Service.

The city of Lowell declared a state of emergency as rainfall totals of 5 inches and high winds led to flooding along the Merrimack and Concord rivers. Shelters have been set up, including one at the Lowell Senior Center.

“This was a storm with lots of potential,” said Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. “It was a recipe for some serious damage.”

The Merrimack River is about 6 feet over flood level, its fifth highest level in history, according to news reports. Several roads were closed due to flooding, including parts of Route 113 in Lowell and Route 114 in Lawrence. Roadways in Winthrop and Marshfield were also turned into waterways.

High tides swamped the Cape Cod shore, and several Nantucket homes were swept into the ocean.

The Hub had no significant flooding or road closures despite 3 inches of rainfall, although the Charles River is expected to crest today, officials say.

“This type of storm is a lot of rain over a long period of time, and our drainage system can definitely handle this type of rainstorm,” said Thomas Bagley of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission.

Some 50,000 power outages were reported Monday throughout the Boston area, according to Nstar spokesman Michael Durand, all of which were repaired overnight.

David Graves, spokesman for National Grid, said power outages north of Boston have been taken care of and do not appear to be a problem at this time.

“If we do turn off power, it’s at the request of police and fire. It’s a safety issue,” said Graves.

Today’s weather is expected to be more of the same, with temperatures in the low 40s, rain and winds, said the weather service’s Charlie Foley.

Ditto Thursday.

“We’re not going to see any improvement until Friday,” Foley said, “when we will start to see some glimmer of sunshine.”

The Boston Globe
Thursday, April 19, 2007

A soggy N.E. waits for the clouds to part
By John R. Ellement and Andrew C. Ryan

State and local officials hoped the end had arrived for a storm system that flooded rivers, closed or washed out roads, and eroded coastal beaches to the point where houses fell into the surf.

"There are areas that have been impacted and individual homeowners and basements that have been impacted," said Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

But conditions did not approach those of May 2006, when floods swept the region, compromised numerous dams, caused about $80 million in damage, and killed two people, Judge added.

"The weather was just not as bad," he said.

In New Hampshire, officials in Newmarket and Hollis kept wary eyes on dams under stress from high water flows as that state struggled to overcome a greater level of damage than seen in Massachusetts, officials said.

In Maine, three people died in storm-related events, and officials predicted damage to public infrastructure will eclipse that of the May 2006 storm.

Utility companies in both states were working to restore power to thousands of customers in areas where falling tree limbs severed power lines and frustrated crews as they tried to repair the damage.

In Massachusetts, coastal areas remained on alert into this morning because of the seasonal high tides that have washed onto roads in Greater Boston since the rains began Sunday. The region has seen 2 to 6 inches of rain.

Dozens of basements were flooded, but officials said no major property damage was reported in mainland coastal communities such as Winthrop and Revere.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed that it's over," said Fire Chief Edward Hurley of Scituate, where some roads were periodically closed and at least one residence was evacuated because of the high tides.

The storm hit the southwest shore of Nantucket and bit chunks out of fragile sand bluffs in Maddaket, loosening the foundation beneath a half-dozen houses. One of the cottages on Sheep Pond Road dropped into the ocean, one was deemed uninhabitable, and four need to have their foundations reinforced, said Nantucket Fire Chief Mark McDougall.

In Lowell, City Manager Bernard Lynch said that emergency work during the past several days prevented greater flood damage in the city and that some sewer work after last year's flood prevented a build up.

For Debbie Luna of Lowell, the issue was restoring the house that she and her family had just finished repairing after last year's flooding. Yesterday, as the family's latest recovery effort began, a 4-inch hose spewed tan water from her first-floor walkout, where she and her husband, Tony, had their bedroom.

Having suffered flooding last year, Luna knows what her future probably holds, tearing out the drywall down to the concrete foundation and then disinfecting to prevent mold and other growth that can trigger health problems.

"It will be bleach, bleach, bleach," she said of her residence on New York Street, which is normally about 100 feet from the banks of Beaver Brook.

In Methuen, Thomas Wahlers stood on Route 110 and looked down a hillside at his house, which was surrounded by at least 5 feet of water from the Merrimack River, which is normally more than 100 feet away. Most of his neighbors on Armory Street suffered the same fate.

Wahlers spent $40,000 repairing the damage from last year's storm and was trying to sell his house because his career has taken him to New York state. Now he is looking at thousands more in repairs, he said.

At the same time, Wahlers wondered whether local, state, and federal officials were doing enough, or the wrong thing, to control the flooding of the Merrimack. He said the water rose much faster this year, even though the rainfall was substantially less, giving him less time to prepare.

"Is it manmade or is it Mother Nature that is doing this?" he asked. "Do they have their act together?"

Timothy J. Duggan, spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers for New England, said the Corps' flood-reduction system can control only 30 percent of the water flowing through the Merrimack River watershed in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

The rest is controlled by natural forces, he said. He said that the persistent rains arrived with the highest tides of the year, essentially backing up water flow from land to sea, and that water volume was increased by snowmelt from New Hampshire.

"We can't control the entire [Merrimack] river," Duggan said. "Unfortunately, that rain has to go somewhere; it will seek the lowest point."

Globe correspondents Daniel Muse and Amanda Bergeron contributed to this report. Material from the Associated Press was also used.

The Aftermath

The Marblehead Reporter
Thursday, April 19, 2007

Patriots Day nor’easter packs powerful waves
By Kris Olson

Marblehead - A Patriots Day nor’easter felled trees around town and sent waves cascading over seawalls Monday. Police shutdown the causeway leading to Marblehead Neck around 9:30 a.m. in anticipation of the 11 a.m. high tide, and it remained closed until well after noon. The receding waters left behind much debris to be cleaned up, creating a bit of a wait for a fairly long queue of cars containing Neck residents trying to get home.

The causeway was again closed Tuesday afternoon as the nor’easter lingered off the New England coast, and waves once again battered the coastline and hurtled seawalls around midnight Tuesday.

Holiday nor'easter slow to leave

The height of the storm, however, was Monday morning. At Grace Oliver’s Beach, waves displaced a section of seawall and threw a large chunk of concrete up into the roadway. At Devereux Beach, one of a number of vehicles stuck in the parking lot, a small Toyota truck, had to work so hard in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to extricate itself that one of its front wheels flew off.

The town’s Tree Department was kept busy removing trees and branches that were blocking roadways. A felled tree could be seen leaning against a home on Prospect Street early Monday morning.

The Light Department also had to deal with circuit issues that led to outages on Beacon Street from the intersection of Orne and Pond streets up to the transfer station, and another on Pleasant Street from Village Plaza down to the YMCA and Starbucks. Other scattered outages were caused by trees downing power lines.

At the State Street landing Monday, a solitary boat, “Bollocks,” could be seen being tossed to and fro in the waves, its name no doubt capturing the sentiments of those eagerly awaiting the true arrival of spring.

The high waves on the first day of the school vacation week attracted no shortage of curiosity seekers to Front Street where folks, many with digital cameras in hand, clustered around an apartment building with an apropos sign, “Sea Spray,” attached, its backyard having been made into a swimming pool in short order.

Nearby, Front Street residents Dr. Stephen and Cheryll Saltzman calmly rode out the storm in their home. Cheryll noted that the home had been built around 1810 and, but for a window blown out by the Blizzard of ’78, had stood the test of time. She noted that she and many of her neighbors had lived in the area for 30 years or more and thus were rather nonplussed about nor’easters.

Nonetheless, this storm produced unusually high waves. The Saltzmans neighbor, Selectwoman Judy Jacobi, noted this was the first time she could recall waves depositing rocks and other material up on her deck, some 20 to 30 feet above the churning seas below.

The high tides followed an evening of heavy downpours and winds gusting to 60 mph. Though the gray skies were expected to linger through Thursday, the sun began peeking out from behind the clouds at around 1 p.m. Monday. However, the wind and rain returned full force on Tuesday, and the dreary conditions continued into Wednesday.

The Boston Globe
Friday, April 20, 2007

Breach has Chatham riding a tide of uncertainty
By Beth Daley

The ocean cut an opening through Chatham's Nauset Beach peninsula this week that grew to about 150 yards by yesterday. (US Coast Guard Auxiliary)

This week’s fierce northeaster punched a hole through Nauset Beach peninsula in Chatham, creating an island with a tiny colony of summer cottages and leaving other houses vulnerable to erosion if the breach continues to widen.

On Wednesday, the ocean cut an opening 50 feet wide, but by yesterday it had grown to about 150 yards, Chatham harbormaster Stuart Smith said, and the Atlantic was getting close to a house.

‘‘It’s pretty ominous,’’ Smith said yesterday afternoon after flying over the area during high tide. Officials hope the cut will fill in naturally, but they won’t know if it will for several days. If the breach continues to widen and deepen, the loss of the protective beach could put houses on the mainland at risk of damage from erosion and flooding.

‘‘We have to wait and see what happens,’’ he said.

The storm pummeled coastal areas from Cape Cod to Maine on Sunday and Monday, tipping a house on Nantucket from a dune onto the beach and breaking through a barrier beach that had connected Chappaquiddick to Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. (A woman killed with her 4-year-old granddaughter on Monday when their car was swept into the Little River in Lebanon, Maine, was identified yesterday as Danvers native Donna Dube, 50.)

In Provincetown, the storm eroded public ways to beaches; and the town has asked the state to repair the foot paths by dredging sand that piled up elsewhere. Scituate’s coast was also battered, but damage to structures was minimal, a state official said.

Chatham is often the epicenter for erosion during storms on Cape Cod. Sitting at the Cape’s elbow, the community’s beachfronts are in constant flux as waves deposit sediment at the same time vast amounts are washed out to sea. The result is a coastline that no cartographer can keep up with, and boats are known to get stranded on sandy shoals that appear seemingly overnight.

Still, significant coastal changes happen only every few decades. In 1987, a powerful winter storm cut through the middle of the long, narrow Nauset barrier beach that had protected downtown Chatham from the Atlantic, allowing the sea to eventually wash away 10 mainland houses.

Today, the gap is more than a mile wide. This week’s breach occurred about 3 miles north of the cut and 6 miles south of the Nauset Beach parking lot in Orleans.

Yet the ocean gives back, too, most recently during a Thanksgiving storm that deposited enough sand to reconnect remote South Monomy Island to mainland Chatham for the first time in 50 years.

This week, only minor damage was reported to houses near the new Chatham breach, although Coast Guard, local and state officials were keeping a close watch on the area yesterday afternoon.

The breach is flanked by two small settlements. On the north side, First Village has a dozen or so summer cottages, including the one that has water near it.

On the south side, Second Village has a dozen cottages completely cut off from the mainland. Smith said most of the houses in the villages appear safe for now.

He said he is worried that if the new inlet continues to grow, houses on the mainland could be at risk because they will no longer have Nauset Beach, known locally as North Beach, to protect them.

Jim Mahala, a coastal geologist with the state Department of Environmental Protection, said that normally he would anticipate that the breach would close because it probably wouldn’t get a large volume of water flushing through it during each tide.

Most of the water between Nauset Harbor and the mainland flushes out through the inlet that was created in 1987. But he said he had not seen the cut and wanted to see what happens to it over the next few days.

If the breach remains, Mahala said, the town could ask the state for permission to plug the hole with sand or possibly protect vulnerable houses with sand bags.

But he cautioned that the area is hard to reach and that the state would have to make sure no environmental damage would occur as a result of any attempt to tame the coastal movement.

Smith and Orleans Park Superintendent Paul Fulcher said plugging such a gap would be difficult.

‘‘Any time you are dealing with Mother Nature and the ocean, any work only stalls things,’’ Fulcher said.

‘‘You are putting off the inevitable. Mother Nature is strong, and she is going to do what she is going to do.’’

The Boston Globe
Sunday, April 22, 2007

Soft spot for spring
Sun wakens a weary Boston from its misery

By Sam Allis

Damn the calendar, yesterday was the first day of spring in Boston. What yesterday did was talk us back from the ledge.

I know this was because I watched a Little League game in Olmsted Park. I was entranced by a kid in left field who did what every Little League left fielder has done since the beginning of time: pick his nose, oblivious to events unfolding elsewhere in the field. That's when I knew it was spring.

It was spring because the diamonds and soccer fields from Franklin Park to Moakley Field were blurs of color and motion. Parents chatted with one another and coaches with an ease that will leave them soon. It won't be long before they will become deranged adults, veins throbbing in their foreheads, screaming maniacally at anything that moves.

There's a name for this. Summer.

It was spring yesterday because a woman lay on her back on the grass near Jamaica Pond, legs crossed languidly, reading a paperback held in one hand up against the sun. Runners and walkers passed by in legions, the rictus that normally disfigures their faces replaced by what looked suspiciously like serenity.

The Observer has always favored fall above all seasons for all the right reasons. It is the most beautiful and the most profound time of the year, particularly in these parts. But yesterday reminded me that spring here is, quite simply, a medical imperative. You let what I call Kafka season go on long enough, and you're in a locked ward wearing the paper slippers.

Yesterday was the day we emerged from our winter carapace. I watched men and woman rejoin the human race like miners exiting a mineshaft, stunned by the shock of sunlight after a long shift below ground. I saw folks on the Esplanade remove more pieces of clothing than is altogether proper to embrace the healing powers of the sun. Melanoma -- isn't that the word for eggplant in Italian?

These people reminded me of the Russians we would see in Life photos during the Cold War: fat, fishbelly white, and happy as porpoises in the warmth of Odessa or Havana. And why not? After a ghastly spring like this one has been, sun trumps pride. Unleavened bleakness will do that to you.

When the temperature blows through the 70-degree mark like Corey Dillon coming through the line of scrimmage, you know it's spring. When the Yankees are in town, you know it's spring. When the home team beats said Yankees, you know it's a good spring. When the home team takes five runs off Rivera, you know it's heaven.

It was spring yesterday because each sex admired the other without fear of going up on charges. There was the woman who looks like a million bucks walking up Newbury, the zephyrs blowing the winter out of her soul. There were the shoulders on the hardbody with a two-day growth jogging past. Women took notice. Good for them. Once again, everything is possible.

It was spring in Boston yesterday because I saw how dirty the place is. Sunlight can't remove the filth; it showcases it. The detritus of a winter litters our sidewalks and parks, unspeakable stuff that will remain there until we get rid of it.

It was spring because it was soft. You can't fake the softness of spring. False spring days try and fail to replicate it. Those villainous, turncoat days seduce us with their thin, watery light -- we'll settle for anything in March -- before destroying us in sleet and punishing rains.

The shock of spring includes the context it brings us. We forget there is another way to live besides the mean, mole-like posture we are forced to assume pretty much from Thanksgiving into April. We miss how sad our lives are during this period unless we leave and return.

A couple of week ago, the Observer spent a blissful week in Arizona. What I found there were blue skies and 80 degrees. Every day. I had to wear a sun hat to protect my balding pate. Life, quite simply, looks different in those conditions.

Your expectations change in that kind of weather, as they began to do here yesterday. They rise and stay risen. You expect things to go well and more often than not, they do. Your worst instincts abate for awhile.

I returned home to find faces that had gone from sad to scary. Bostonians were in dire straits. Friends, colleagues, strangers -- they had the wall-eyed look of a spooked horse that made me want to cross the street. It's not just that these people were down. They were dangerously down.

All winter, as my mental stability descended to that of Raskolnikov, I chatted with my cousin, who winters in Tucson. I love him dearly, and it was he who was kind enough to lend me his place there. But there was always a lightness in his voice that dismantled me, trapped in the bitterness of a Boston winter. Call it winter pity. We Bostonians wallow in winter pity.

And yet, finally, we have lurched to spring. The rain, when it comes, will be warm. The clouds, when they float in, will be friendly. After a mere week in Tucson, the scales fell from the eyes of the Observer. Sometimes, it really is all about the weather.


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