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Boston braces for ‘bomb cyclone,' 'Bombogenesis’

The Boston area will get up to a foot of snow Thursday followed by freezing temperatures. Here's how the city's preparing.

Bomb cyclone, Bombogenesis, Nor’easter, blizzard — call it what you will, all it means is we’re in for a bad couple of days.

Boston snow is on the way, and the city is preparing for up to a foot of it this Thursday into Friday as a so-called “bomb cyclone” drops furious snow and freezing temperatures over the Northeast.

The region is forecast to see snow starting late Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service, which expects between 8 and 12 inches of accumulation throughout Massachusetts. The full fury of the snowfall will happen Thursday morning through the afternoon. 

Boston schools will be closed on Thursday, Mayor Marty Walsh said Wednesday. It was too soon to say whether schools would be closed on Friday as well. Cars should be taken off the roads by 7 a.m. on Thursday, Walsh said, as a snow emergency will be in effect.


The biggest concern is the loss of power that will undoubtedly result from the storm. Homes without heat will be subject to possible record-breaking sub-zero temperatures over the weekend, making for a dangerous situation for vulnerable residents.

But forecasters also warned of a “variety of hazards” in the region and warned that travel would be treacherous due to whiteout conditions.

“Expect strong damaging winds, power outages, blizzard conditions on the immediate coast, heavy snow, blowing [and] drifting snow, coastal flooding and high seas,” NWS Boston said on Twitter on Wednesday. The Nor’easter will cause a storm surge of up to 3 feet, the NWS added, which will lead to some coastal flooding for the eastern Massachusetts coastline on Thursday.

“This is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation for mariners,” NWS Boston tweeted.

Bitter cold air with wind chills of 15 to -35 degrees is expected on Friday and Saturday.

Walsh said the city was preparing to spread 40,000 tons of rock salt on Boston's roads and sidewalks starting Wednesday evening. More than 700 pieces of snow removal equipment were ready to go, he said, warning of the impending freeze.

"Once the freeze comes in, it will be almost impossible to move the ice that is formed," Walsh said, emphasizing that the biggest challenge of this storm is the cold that will follow.

Residents can call 311 if they need to report incidents like burst pipes or other non-emergencies. However, he said, people should call 911 if they witness someone stuck out in the cold.

The Boston Yeti also weighed in on the upcoming storm, telling Metro: "To all of Boston: please be safe and look after any neighbors in need during the storm. Also, make sure you're stocked up on food, water, and any batteries necessary to power up your favorite handheld gaming consoles."

Will the MBTA run Thursday?

The MBTA said it will use snow-fighting equipment to keep train tracks clear and plans to run regular weekday service on the Red, Orange, Blue, and Green Lines on Thursday. The Mattapan Trolley Line will be replaced with shuttle buses, servicing all stations, the T said. As delays and other service changes may occur, customers are urged to connect with the MBTA by visiting the MBTA website, signing up for and checking T-Alerts, downloading the Transit app, and following the T on Twitter @MBTA as well as the commuter rail at @MBTA_CR.

Regular bus service will operate, though delays may occur and bus routes that have “Snow Routes” will operate on their designated Snow Route. To find a list of buses with Snow Routes, customers are urged to visit www.mbta.com/winter where these routes are listed.

The MBTA Commuter Rail will operate a “Reduced Schedule” in which some scheduled trains will not operate. Online schedules and schedules available within the commuter rail app will be updated to only show trains that operate during a Reduced Schedule. Trains shaded in yellow on printed schedules will not operate. Express trains may make local stops as necessary.

Ferry services will not operate on Thursday, January 4.