Field Observations: Real-Time Data from the March 10 Storm & Flooding in Boston

Contributors: Katie Lavallee, Chris Gloninger, Francesco Peri, Kirk Bosma, Joe Christo | PHOTOS: Kevin Mukai & Brian Glazer

Boston experienced another storm event that caused flooding in several neighborhoods throughout the city on Sunday, March 10, 2024.

Similar to the three significant storms earlier this year (January 10, January 13, and February 13), flooding was recorded at Long Wharf in Downtown Boston, Border Street in East Boston, and Tenean Beach in Dorchester.

Our team at the Stone Living Lab was busy gathering and analyzing data via instrumentation we’ve deployed as part of our Real-Time Monitoring in Boston Harbor project, launched this fall in collaboration with Woods Hole Group and the City of Boston. Collecting high-quality, continuous metocean time series data helps the Lab and municipal partners like the City of Boston evaluate normal, changing climate, and storm conditions in Boston Harbor, which helps inform adaptation and resilience planning.

Please see below for a short summary of data readings and observations.

  • Observed water level at NOAA’s Boston tide gauge peaked at 7.94 ft. NAVD88 at 11:54pm on Sunday 3/10
  • The largest waves were observed between 12:00pm and 1:00pm on Sunday 3/10, with significant wave height peaking at 4 feet with a 9 second dominant wave period at the Boston Harbor entrance buoy and 1 foot with a 5 second dominant wave period at the Inner Harbor buoy.
Data from the Stone Living Lab Hohonu Overland Flooding Sensors

This surge referenced above was also observed at our Hohonu overland flood stations throughout Boston (all in inundation depth, in feet above the ground surface and peak depth elevations in NAVD88 for reference).

Long Wharf, Downtown Boston: A peak flood depth of 1.5 feet (7.6 ft. NAVD88) was recorded from 11:24am to 12:06pm, with inundation lasting approximately 2.5 hours from 10:24am – 1:00pm. 0.5 feet of flooding was also observed during the second high tide from 11:30pm to 1:06am on Monday 3/11.

Border Street, East Boston: A peak flood depth of 0.7 feet (8.2 ft. NAVD88) was recorded from 11:48am to 12:00pm, with inundation lasting approximately 1.5 hours from 10:54am – 12:30pm.

Tenean Beach, Dorchester: Flooding was observed at the Tenean Beach station each high tide starting on Saturday March 9 at 9:00am:

  • Saturday March 9: Peak flooding of 1.1 feet (6.1 ft. NAVD88) observed at 9:48am with inundation lasting 4 hours.
  • Saturday March 9 : Peak flooding of 0.8 feet (5.7 ft. NAVD88) observed at 10:36pm with inundation lasting approximately 9 hours.
  • Sunday March 10: Peak flooding of 2.4 feet (7.3 ft. NAVD88) observed at 11:48am with inundation lasting approximately 5.5 hours from 10:18am – 3:48pm
  • Monday March 11: Peak flooding of 1.4 feet (6.4 ft. NAVD88) observed at 12:12am with inundation lasting approximately 5 hours.

Morrissey Boulevard, Dorchester: No flooding recorded at the station location.

Data from the Stone Living Lab Rainsford Island Meteorological Station

Our Rainsford Island station recorded the following data between midnight and 12:00pm:

  • Barometric pressure minimum: 29.2 inHg
  • Maximum sustained wind speed: 23 MPH east/southeast winds
  • Maximum gust speed: 33 MPH
Data from the Stone Living Lab Gallops Island Tide Gauge

Although the wind had subsided and rotated south-southwest leading up to high tide, our Gallops Island tide gauge recorded a peak of 13.09 ft. (7.59 ft. NAVD88), about a 1.5 feet higher than the predicted 11.49 ft. high tide.

  • A new moon helped exacerbate coastal flooding on March 10. The new moon coincided with a fairly strong area of low pressure that moved through the region. On Saturday, March 9, low pressure developed over upstate South Carolina and moved north-northeast, approximately 50 miles inland from the coast.
  • As the storm cut inland, strong east/southeast winds developed on Saturday 3/9 and lasted into Sunday 3/10 While winds were well below advisory criteria, the significant duration and fetch assisted in building a two-foot storm surge. Maximum surge occurred concurrently with the incoming high tide, which aided in compounding the flood situation. This storm system was significantly weaker than the December and back-to-back January storms the region experienced. As winds shifted to an offshore direction late Sunday, the flood threat quickly diminished. ESE waves observed on 3/10, even as wind subsided and shifted W throughout Sunday.

About the Real-Time Monitoring in Boston Harbor project

This project – launched in the fall of 2023 in partnership with Woods Hole Group and the City of Boston – provides real-time monitoring of waves, water level, and meteorological parameters in and along Boston Harbor. The project is the next phase of work that the Lab has conducted since 2021, and provides a continuous time series of metocean data to evaluate normal conditions, changing climate, and storm conditions in Boston Harbor. All systems are real-time, and as such, will provide preliminary data to the web that can be viewed by the public as well as our researchers.