This year's New England winter has been one for the record books. As spring officially arrived, so did a series of spring storms that finally put this year's total over the top. The Washington Post weather blog marked the occasion on March 15 (see: "Boston clinches snowiest season on record amid winter of superlatives," by Angela Fritz).
"It's official," wrote the Post: "Boston has set a new record for snowiest season. Through Sunday evening, the city had accumulated a total of 108.6 inches of snow, surpassing the old record of 107.6 inches set in the winter of 1995-96. Boston's weather records date to 1872."
Even more remarkable, almost all the nearly nine feet of snow fell in a short span during January and February. "... it wasn't just the seasonal record that was broken this winter — Boston has broken (and sometimes obliterated) dozens of records since late January," wrote the Post. "The city's five-, seven-, 10-, 20-, 30- and 40-day snowfall records were all broken within a couple of weeks. February became the snowiest month on record after more than 45 inches fell in just two weeks. By the 28th, the month's total was 64.8 inches."
By the way: All of these numbers, it turns out, need to be taken with a grain of road salt. Measuring snowfall is, by its very nature, imprecise and a little subjective. At Boston's Logan Airport, the official snow depth is taken by a volunteer whose very identity is kept confidential, the Boston Globe reports (see: "Who's behind measuring Boston's official snow total?" by Billy Baker). The anonymous donor of Boston's official statistics sticks a ruler into the snow at various locations around the airport. "The Ruler of the Logan Ruler does not do interviews. He does not do photos. At his request, the National Weather Service won't even release his name," says the Globe. "It is impossible to accurately measure snowfall remotely, so when the flakes start falling, the Ruler of the Logan Ruler will make four trips per day to the airport — at 7 a.m., 1 p.m., 7 p.m., and midnight — and stick a ruler into the snow at various points to come up with an average accumulation… all snowfall records need to be viewed with an asterisk because they have always relied on the human eye." As Boston crept toward "breaking the record" — for a certain definition of "break" and "record" — protecting the privacy of the man with the measuring stick took on a certain heightened significance. ""Measuring snow is kind of political at times, and a lot of people don't want to get involved in it because it's such a subjective thing," Bill Simpson, National Weather Service spokesman for the Taunton, Massachusetts station, told the Globe.
But for contractors in the region, it wasn't the last, record-breaking two inches of snow that mattered the most — it was the 8 feet of snow that fell before that. This year's blizzard played merry hell with roofs around coastal New England, and for many businesses, that means months of work ahead. The Globe looks at that story here (see: "Contractors overwhelmed as winter repairs fuel demand," by Dan Adams).
"Contractors across Massachusetts are, no big surprise, overwhelmed, their inboxes and voicemails blitzed by owners of homes damaged during a record-setting winter," reports the Globe. "Many are still struggling to clear backlogs of emergency repairs, much less restart home improvement jobs that stalled amid the snow. And new projects, like that upgraded deck you wanted by summer? Take a number."
For builders and remodelers, busy times are good news. But they come with a down side: a looming shortage of trade labor. Writes the Globe: "Homebuilder Rick McCullough has a guy for everything. Dale is his siding guy, steady, diligent. Jim is his drywall guy, his hours long, his work impeccable. Mark has been his roof guy forever. McCullough counts on them to keep his jobs on schedule. Now, if only they would call him back."