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Blizzard of 2022 breaks records at Blue Hill Observatory

Matt Douglas, Blue Hill Observatory assistant chief observer, walked around the observatory to take measurements of the snow on Tuesday.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

The recent blizzard was the second largest January snowstorm on record at Blue Hill Observatory in Milton, officials said.

“That’s pretty darn big,” said Charles Orloff, the executive director of the Blue Hill Observatory.

The 27.1 inches of snowfall measured at Blue Hill on Jan. 29 also broke the record for the highest calendar day snowfall ever measured in January at the observatory. It beat out the previous record of 25.2 inches that was set on Jan. 27, 2015.

Orloff said the observatory was staffed around the clock for 30 hours in a row during the blizzard.

“We measure snow every six hours,” Orloff said.


Blue Hill chief observer Ben Turner and assistant chief observer Matt Douglas were on duty taking measurements throughout the storm.

Douglas said it was heaviest snowfall he’d ever seen.

“It was pretty wild,” Douglas said. “It was coming down really hard.”

Staff at Blue Hill Observatory reported that blizzard conditions were observed at the summit for at least four consecutive hours, and at one point the snowfall rate reached about three inches per hour. The final storm total was 27.6 inches of snow that started falling on Jan. 28 and ended on Jan 29.

A new precipitation record was also broken at the observatory. The calendar day liquid equivalent precipitation on Jan. 29 was 1.79 inches, which surpassed the previous record of 1.48 inches set in 1973.

Don McCasland, program director at Blue Hill Observatory, stood in the observe room which is under reconstruction at the observatory. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Located at the summit of Great Blue Hill in Milton, the Blue Hill Observatory has a history that goes back to 1885. Because the tower is currently undergoing renovations, the observatory instruments have been moved to a temporary tower, according to Orloff.

The castle-like tower, which is three stories high and made of reinforced concrete, was constructed in 1908.

“It takes a lot of wear....and It’s been through a lot,” said Orloff. “It’s crumbling and leaking. It needed to be repaired.”


The tower renovations began last June and a grand opening is planned for late summer, he said.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.