A house slides into the ocean waters at Plum Island, MA, after being hit by pounding waves from Winter Storm Saturn on Friday, March 8, 2013.
It lived through Sandy, and it lived through the February nor’easter, but last week’s storm winds were the last straw for one Atlantic City structure, the “aging beach patrol building on the Atlantic City boardwalk,” the Star-Ledger reported on March 7 (“Late winter storm hits weather-weary NJ, causing wind damage and flooding,” by Erin O'Neill and Stephen Stirling). “The start of today’s wet and windy nor’easter proved too much for the structure as gusts nearing 60 mph ripped off the roof and sent the walls tumbling into the dunes near States Street.”
The “large and perplexing” late winter storm was hard to predict. In Washington, D.C., forecasters warned of as much as a foot of snow. The city shut down in preparation — needlessly, as it turned out, because the storm brought mostly rain. But in New York and Massachusetts, the storm — dubbed “Winter Storm Saturn” by the Weather Channel — was an overachiever. Staten Island got 8 inches, the Advance reported (“Snow storm hits Staten Island with a bigger punch than expected,” by Deborah Young). Holden, Massachusetts got almost two feet of snow, with Boston’s Logan Airport accumulating a foot.
The storm followed a pattern of development that has become all too familiar, as this NASA video shows (“NASA Provides Satellite Views of Nor'easter”): a storm front moving across the northern U.S. merged with a low moving up the Atlantic coast, and the two wound together to produce powerful winds and heavy precipitation — a process very similar to Sandy’s evolution, and to the development of the February nor’easter. And like Sandy and the February storm, storm Saturn hit the coastline hard.
On Plum Island north of Boston, storm waves undercut a beach house and caused its collapse, the Herald reported (“Plum Island homeowner devastated by loss of house to tide,” by Matt Stout). The Boston Globe covers the story here (“Storm devastating to Plum Island,” by Billy Baker): “By Friday, the surprisingly powerful offshore storm turned much of Annapolis Way near the beach into a high-priced junkyard. Concrete fell from house foundations. Decks swung in the breeze like torn curtains. And a stainless-steel refrigerator bobbed in the surf, occasionally smashing into homes that used to be protected by dunes.”
Cable news station NECN followed the story on video from the scene (“Storm claims home, damages others on Plum Island, Mass.”). By Monday, NECN reported, three houses had been demolished, with more certain to follow as each high tide brought more erosion (“Demolition continues on Plum Island”).
Homeowner Thomas Nee told NECN he had spent $42,000 in recent weeks to protect his doomed house. “We poured concrete, we put piles in and it took them away like they were straws,” said Nee. Now, Nee says, he’s giving up and moving to California. “We are going to save the garage,” he said. “I am going to put a sign up: ‘Make me an offer, if you dare.’”