Boston officials urge caution as city anticipates high winds, coastal surge from Friday’s storm

"The timing of the storm matching high tide could present a challenge."

Water splashes over steps at Long Wharf high tide during a snowstorm in downtown Boston, on Jan. 29, 2022.
Water splashes over steps at Long Wharf high tide during a snowstorm in downtown Boston, on Jan. 29, 2022. (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
The Latest on Friday's storm

Ahead of a powerful storm expected to bring heavy rain, high wind gusts, and possible coastal flooding on Friday, Mayor Michelle Wu and other Boston officials urged residents to take caution as they make last-minute holiday preparations.

“We are asking everyone to be vigilant,” Wu told reporters at City Hall. “We’re not ringing an emergency alarm bell by any means. But this will be one of the larger storms as we’re headed into the winter season. Fingers crossed that as the projections currently show, it stays as rain rather than accumulation on the ground as snow.”

The storm now barreling through the Midwest and Great Lakes region as snow is expected to arrive in the Boston area Thursday night and continue into Friday as rain, although some higher elevations in Massachusetts may receive snow.


Some forecasters are predicting the storm could become a bomb cyclone before it enters the Northeast and New England. 

In Boston, Wu said officials are watching closely at how wind gusts as high as 50 to 60 mph could bring down power lines and create other safety issues.

Residents who encounter downed lines should not attempt to remedy the situation on their own, she warned. They should call 311 instead, so city crews can handle it safely.

“The strong wind will really be one of the most visible parts of the storm,” she said.

According to Wu, the city is also expecting about 2 inches of rainfall, with water levels expected to rise about 3 feet above high tide.

“The timing of the storm matching high tide could present a challenge when it comes to flooding in certain areas of the city, according to the National Weather Service,” Wu said. “We will continue to update this data throughout the day, and our city teams will be monitoring these projections so we know exactly where our services need to be deployed.”

In the flooding-prone Seaport District, the city will have two high-water rescue vehicles nearby, officials said. Motorists, as always, should not attempted to drive through a flooded roadway, nor should pedestrians walk through standing water, as there is always the potential risk of electric shock or contact with sewer discharge.


Temperatures in Boston are expected be mild, entering the mid-50s by midday Friday. But temperatures are also expected to plummet overnight, with windchill making for what will feel like single-digit cold Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Wu said.

The city has 40,000 tons of salt at the ready to help make roads and walkways safer in the event of a flash-freeze, she said, adding though the current projection shows Boston could be “a teeny bit lucky” and avoid a quick freeze-over.

“There’s a scenario in which the high winds will actually help us dry out the roads a bit, and so that as the temperatures drop with precipitation, it may not freeze as much,” Wu said. “We are hoping for that. But again, it all depends on timing and intensity, and the winds bring a different set of challenges.”

Overall, Wu and public safety officials urged residents to go slow as they wrap up any final preparations before the holiday weekend.

“If you have time today, (it’s) even better… time to get some of that shopping done,” Wu said Thursday.

Residents can sign up to receive city alerts at or by texting ALERTBOSTON to 888-777.


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