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Open-File Report 2015–1081

Storm Tide Monitoring During the Blizzard of January 26–28, 2015, in Eastern Massachusetts

By Andrew J. Massey and Richard J. Verdi

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (10.4 MB)Introduction

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) deployed a temporary monitoring network of six storm surge sensors and four barometric pressure sensors along the Atlantic coast in eastern Massachusetts, from Plymouth to Newburyport, before the blizzard of January 26–28, 2015 (Blizzard of January 2015), to record the timing and magnitude of storm tide at select locations where forecasters had predicted the potential for coastal flooding. Additionally, water-level data were recorded and transmitted in near real-time from four permanent USGS tidal stations—three on Cape Cod and one near the mouth of the Merrimack River in Newburyport. The storm surge sensors were deployed at previously established fixed sites outfitted with presurveyed mounting brackets. The mounting brackets were installed in 2014 as part of the USGS Surge, Wave, and Tide Hydrodynamic (SWaTH) Network (, which was funded through congressional supplemental appropriations for the U.S. Department of the Interior after the devastating landfall of Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012 (Simmons and others, 2014). The USGS received this funding to enable better understanding of coastal flooding hazards in the region, to improve preparedness for future coastal storms, and to increase the resilience of coastal cities, infrastructure, and natural systems in the region (Buxton and others, 2013). The USGS established 163 monitoring locations along the New England coast for the SWaTH Network, including 70 sites in Massachusetts.

The Blizzard of January 2015 was a powerful and destructive storm that threatened public safety and led to widespread cancellations and delays at transportation hubs, schools, and businesses in Massachusetts, including, for example, the closure of General Edward Lawrence Logan (Boston-Logan) International Airport and cancellation of all flights on January 27 and a statewide travel ban issued for January 28. A total of 24.6 inches of snowfall and winds up to 45 miles per hour (mi/hr) were recorded at the airport. Several coastal communities were affected and experienced flooding, overwash, and damage to seawalls, dwellings, and other infrastructure. In Scituate, the National Guard was sent to rescue people from flooding, and power was cut to some areas of the town to prevent electrical fires.

First posted May 1, 2015


For additional information, contact:
New England Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey 
10 Bearfoot Road 
Northborough, MA 01532 
(508) 490-5000

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Suggested citation:

Massey, A.J., and Verdi, R.J., 2015, Storm tide monitoring during the blizzard of January 26–28, 2015, in eastern Massachusetts: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015–1081, 8 p.,

ISSN 2331-1258 (online)



Storm Characteristics

Deployment of Storm Surge Sensors

Storm Tide Measurements

Effects on Coastal Communities

References Cited

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