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Boston’s snowless streak followed by a storm could be a sign of its climate future

Ralf Sunnetcioglu, 6, ran in the snow beside Memorial Drive Friday with his mother, Ebru.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

It finally snowed — really snowed — in Boston. Friday morning, parts of the city were blanketed in more than 7 inches of white, marking the first significant snowfall since last February.

The winter storm ended the city’s fifth-longest stretch in recorded history without more than an inch of snowfall. The last time Boston went more than 321 days without a solid inch was from February 2011 to January 2012.

As the climate crisis persists, we could see more snowless periods, but also more tumultuous storms like this one. Though New England and Massachusetts are experiencing higher temperatures and less snow on the whole due to global warming, studies show that the climate crisis is also stoking more severe and unpredictable downpours. In other words, snowstorms will likely happen less frequently, but when they do occur, they could be much more intense.

Huge swaths of the eastern half of the country were also hit hard by the storm. Here in Massachusetts, Dorchester saw almost 10 inches accumulate, while Westwood saw 8.5. Elsewhere, Higganum, Conn., got covered in 12 inches, Rhode Island in 10 inches, New York City in more than 8 inches.

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The snow covered the mid-south from Kentucky to Tennessee, too. Nashville received 6.3 inches, which is a new record for daily snowfall. And 9.9 inches accumulated in Lexington, Ky., which broke that city’s daily record, too.

The winter weather has created beautiful scenes across the eastern US. But it’s also wreaking havoc throughout New England and beyond.

On the roads, the National Weather Service’s Boston branch said that the snow was creating problems for road crews and limiting visibility. In a tweet Friday morning, the agency said travel was “very treacherous & slow” on Friday morning across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, advising locals to “delay travel until this afternoon when snow ends” if at all possible.

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The storm sparked chaos for air travel, too, with more than 2,200 flights canceled on Friday, including hundreds in the Northeast. Weather advisories were also issued across Maine, while a state of emergency was issued in New Jersey.

In Massachusetts, the heaviest of this weekend’s snow is likely already behind us. Most of the heaviest snowfall was forecasted to wrap up by noon Friday.


Dharna Noor can be reached at dharna.noor@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @dharnanoor.