Strong overnight storm causes flooding and travel delays on trains, planes

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Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR’s daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

“Hey Alexa. Play ‘Stormy Weather’ by Etta James.”

It only feels right this morning. To the news:

Last night’s rainy and windy conditions are still here this morning for much of the Boston area. And according to meteorologist Danielle Noyes, we’re not through the storm just yet. She expects localized flooding and tough travel conditions to continue into the mid-morning.

  • Before you head out: Buses will replace MBTA Red Line service between Braintree and Quincy Center T stations due to flooding. There are also major delays on the Green Line’s D Branch, on top of all the ongoing track work closures this month. The Orange Line faced delays of 15 minutes earlier this morning due to reports of flooding at Roxbury Crossing along with a medical emergency. For folks coming from Rhode Island, commuter rail service between Providence and Pawtucket was paused and the transit agency directed passengers to take RIDOT buses for service between the stations. The high winds also forced the Steamship Authority to cancel a number of early morning ferry trips to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
  • Power down: 6,700 power outages were reported during yesterday’s storm, and as of 7:30 a.m., about 4,600 customers were still without power.
  • Up in the air: Logan Airport has canceled 43 flights and we’re seeing plenty of delays, too. Check if your trip has been affected here.

In other weather news: 2023 tied 2012 as the hottest year on record in Massachusetts, according to new data released yesterday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. Other states across New England, like Connecticut, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire also recorded some of their warmest years in history, WBUR’s Barbara Moran reports.

  • But what about El Niño? Yes, precipitation throughout the month of December resembled what would be expected during an El Niño winter — but even with that weather pattern, Concord, New Hampshire, and Worcester recorded 2023 as its hottest year ever. It was Boston’s third hottest year on record, with the average temperature about two degrees higher than normal.
  • “We really saw consistent warmth most months, with most places being above normal throughout the entire year,” Art DeGaetano, director of the NOAA’s Northeast Regional Climate Center, told Vermont Public. “Compared to the long-term 20th century average, we have not seen a below-normal year since 1997. That is a long time.” You can see the 2023 report from the Northeast Regional Climate Center here.
  • Zoom out: Americans also dealt with a total of 28 separate billion-dollar climate disasters this year, two of which were in the northeast region. That’s a part of a larger climate trend. Learn more about the cost of extreme weather in this piece from Barbara.

For the second time in her first term, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu delivered her “state of the city” address. Her verdict? The state of the city is strong!

  • Wu’s speech touched on accomplishments during her first year in office but focused heavily on housing and schools, touting new college-high school partnerships and efforts to expand the number of housing units available.
  • The mayor also announced an update on last year’s promise to make Boston greener. “Last year, I promised to ban fossil fuels in new city buildings. And we did,” said Wu. “Already, two new community centers and two libraries in progress will be fossil fuel free.” She also announced the city will launch its first network geothermal system.
  • During the speech, Wu was briefly interrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters, who unfurled a banner and dropped leaflets before being shown the door by police. You can read Wu’s full prepared remarks here.

An effort to subvert the banned books battle: This afternoon, state lawmakers will hear testimony on a bill that hopes to protect schools and libraries from politically motivated book bans. The proposed bill would create standards for schools to respond to each request, and materials would only be removed from curriculums after a public hearing.

  • Carol Rose, head of the American Civil Liberties Union Massachusetts, which supports the effort, said this legislation would also protect librarians so they can do their jobs without fear of retaliation. “It’s really important that the Commonwealth give guidance to our educators and especially to our librarians so that they know what to do when these situations arise,” Rose told WBUR. “And in the meantime, the students rights to learn are protected.”

Hungry for a new dining options? Well, you’re in luck: Boston is getting a new gourmet food hall. The Boston Globe reports the latest addition to the city’s fancy food court scene is “The Lineup,” the brainchild of Michelin-starred chef John Fraser. Located in the Financial District, it will offer up fast-casual options like pizza, burgers, Greek fare and Mexican-inspired vegetarian cuisine (“nachos in a box” anyone?!). The Lineup opens next week on Wednesday, Jan. 17.

P.S. — Would you pay $50 for a lottery ticket if it meant a chance to win $1 million a year for the rest of your life? The Massachusetts State Lottery hopes you’ll be willing to take the gamble.

Katie Cole and Berto Scalese helped contribute to today’s newsletter. This post was updated after the original newsletter was sent with new weather-related delay information.

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