Friday, January 19, 2018

Harbor Ice Lingers After Storm as Flooded Provincetowners Shovel Out

The Truro shoreline, and My Yot in the ice, seen from the beach at St Mary's Church.
Former fishing vessel My Yot was seen in Provincetown Harbor surrounded by sea ice last Saturday. From Saint Mary's beach, looking toward the Truro shoreline, the anchored boat appeared to float gently amidst the gradually melting floes of ice left behind after the so-called "bomb cyclone" storm that had ripped its way up the East Coast the week before.
A weather condition known as bombogenesis occurs when a very big drop in air pressure happens in a very short period of time, creating a storm of explosive strength. The sudden drop in pressure causes air to be drawn spiraling into the center of the growing storm, only to be rapidly pushed out through the top of the system.
If the amount of air being sucked into the storm can't keep up with the amount being blown out of the top, the pressure drops even farther and the system grows that much bigger, sucking in more air from farther, and still farther away. Our storm was so strong that it drew in moist air from as far away as the Caribbean.

Folks, and pets, are happy to walk on the beach again, as ice shifts with the tides.
Bombogenesis is achieved when the air pressure drops at least 24 millibars over a period of 24 hours. In this storm, there was a pressure drop of 59 millibars in those 24 hours, which set us up for a storm so strong that it may actually have broken previous records.
PTown saw storm surge and flooding, window-rattling winds and some very cold temperatures, yet we came out pretty well, since the heart of the storm was very far out to sea, where scientists estimated possible 50-foot waves. A blizzard warning had been issued from Virginia to eastern Maine. Even parts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina got six inches of snow, which is a huge struggle for them.
JFK airport had to be closed for a bit due to 55 mph winds, Islip airport on Long Island got snow at the rate of about three inches per hour, the shoreline and islands of Massachusetts recorded winds over 70 mph, and as the storm was strengthening in New England, Boston was nearing tides at an all-time record high.

Harbor colors are actually enhanced with all the white spots to play on at sunset.
Communities farther inland got their share of extreme weather out of this event, too. Immense temperature drops were felt from the East Coast to the Midwest as this epic storm jostled the polar vortex.
It pulled in masses of frigid air from Siberia, the North Pole and Greenland all at once, causing a rapid drop in normal, regional winter temperatures by as much as 40 degrees in some spots.

So PTown really was quite lucky, despite flooding in many Commercial Street businesses, homes, restaurants, and the UU Meetinghouse. We live in a town where the electricity goes out when someone sneezes in Wellfleet, yet we escaped the serious, lengthy outages that are so dangerous in extremely cold weather.
All in all, we did alright. And as temperatures warmed up a bit, folks could get back to strolling along the harbor, stepping around the ice floes that settle on the flats when the tide rolls out, and enjoying these spectacular, unusual sights.

If the beach becomes impassable, take the stairway up to Fanizzi's, reopening today.
As we were reaching low tide on this day, the sun was getting ready to set as well, making for some lovely scenes of sea ice glistening as it came to rest on the tidal flats circling around Provincetown Harbor.
The beach in front of Fanizzi's had slowly begun taking on its usual late-afternoon pinkish, golden glow, but with a lot of extra sparkles and colors appearing in that rare, temporary art form that Mother Earth had floated on the water for us.
After closing while they worked to recover from heavy flooding and storm damage, today sees Fanizzi's Restaurant once again opening its doors, resuming their usual schedule, complete with early bird specials, Friday Night Fish Fry, Sunday Brunch, that stunning view, and all the things that make this resilient little spot a favorite neighborhood hangout. Stop in and warm up a bit if you get a little chilled on your beach walk.

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