Five years ago today, Boston was frozen in place.
On Jan. 27, 2015, Bostonians woke up to a winter wonderland. A massive snowstorm, which some people dubbed a “Snowpocalypse” or a “Snowmaggedon,” was blanketing the city with 24.4 inches of snow. Over 30 inches was falling in other parts of the state.
Although it was a Tuesday, the streets were quiet, schools were closed, and work was canceled. Kids hit the slopes at the Boston Common, sledding through the light, fluffy snow. Friends gathered at bars, taking advantage of the rare opportunity to relax during the workweek. A person dressed in a Yeti costume stalked the streets, neglecting warnings from city officials to remain inside.
“We are anticipating an historic top five snowstorm,” Governor Charlie Baker said at a news conference the day before the storm. His prediction was close; the storm turned out to be the sixth worst in Boston history.
The storm, which came after winter had gotten off to a fairly uneventful start, turned out to be the vanguard of the snowiest winter ever recorded in Boston. The season became a miserable marathon of back-breaking shoveling, frustrating commutes, leaking roofs, and hazardous driving.
In February, another storm brought 23.8 inches of snow from Feb. 7 to Feb. 10. Yet another storm contributed over a foot of snow from Feb. 14 to Feb. 15. The Feb. 7-10 storm also made into the top 10 snowstorm list, weighing in at the 7th spot.
Overall, Boston saw a total of 110.6 inches covering the city that winter, according to The Weather Channel. The previous record for the snowiest winter, 107.6 inches, was set in the 1996 to 1997 season.
Could it happen again? There haven’t been any notable snowstorms in New England this year, but there’s no telling whether another nor’easter — or series of them — will surprise Bostonians sometime soon.
“There’s certainly a possibility that these storms could occur every five to 10 years, but there’s no guarantee,” said Bill Simpson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service of Boston. “It’s not clockwork.”
On This Day in Southern New England Weather History: January 26-27, 2015 Winter Storm. This storm brought 1 to 3 feet of snow to much of the region. However, the Hartford & Springfield areas were "spared" with less than 8 inches of snow. pic.twitter.com/CDO99dxbbc— NWS Boston (@NWSBoston) January 26, 2020
For those planning to trek into or out of Boston five years ago, getting anywhere proved futile after the city enacted an emergency travel ban. The storm was so disruptive that the MBTA was crippled for days, something that hasn’t happened since.
“Since the winter of 2015, the MBTA has upgraded track and signal infrastructure, invested in snow-fighting equipment, and stocked up on replacement parts for vehicles,” said Joe Pesaturo, MBTA spokesman. Altogether, the MBTA spent $101 million on “winter resiliency” after the storm, he said.
In a rare development, Logan International Airport ceased all operations.
Other parts of Eastern and Central Massachusetts were also hit hard in the Jan. 26-27 storm. Plymouth received 24 inches of snow, while an unprecedented 34.5 inches fell on Worcester. However, according to the National Weather Service, Springfield received less than eight inches and the Berkshires saw barely any snow at all.
Matt Berg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mattberg33.