High tide brings flooding to some coastal towns

SCITUATE — As high tide rumbled in around noon today, low-lying areas along the coastline of this South Shore town began to experience another bout of flooding, with water streaming over the town’s seawall and collecting in roadways, causing several streets to be blocked off by police.

Waves crashed against the wall — some so forceful that the splash and foam could be seen over the tops of the two- and three-story homes that line the beach. Residents came out of their homes to get a better look at the flooding, which was largely occurring in the same spots of the neighborhood where it usually floods.

Bryan Doran, a lifelong Scituate resident, said he saw the usual suspects — roads and marshes he anticipated filling with water.


“It’s what I was expecting,” Doran said, as he snapped a photo on his cellphone. “This is the regular stuff, all these flat spots fill in with water.”

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So far, he said, the extent of the flooding did not reach the level of flooding that came along with last year’s blizzard.

Still, Doran said, he’s worried about the next high tide, due at midnight.

On the official town administrator Twitter account, Scituate officials said the “regular flooding areas” along Rebecca, Turner, Oceanside, and Surfside streets were once again flooded — as were the areas along Cole Parkway, Edward Foster Road, Allen Place, Bailey’s Causeway, Glades Road, and all of Cedar Point to Minot Lighthouse.

“Please stay away from Scituate Harbor area,’’ Scituate officials pleaded in a posting on the town website.


The National Weather Service has issued a flooding warning that essentially covered the Massachusetts coastline, but with special concern for towns like Scituate and for Cape Cod communities, especially Sandwich.

The coastal flood warning remains in effect until 3 p.m. today, or three hours after the high tide.

In Duxbury, town officials asked coastal residents in the Gurnet Road area to voluntarily evacuate.

In Plymouth at midday, a 12-foot high tide and gale-force gusts kicked up towering waves that easily breached the sea wall at Plymouth Long Beach, sending a shallow river of water across Route 3A.

Police cruisers blocked the road, and officers politely turned around vehicles and pedestrians who wanted to approach the beach parking lot. There, the surf crashed against, and occasionally over, the now-abandoned Bert’s Landing restaurant.


The powerful, green-gray waves tossed 20-pound rocks like cannonballs into the parking lot, and the powerful storm surge carried them across Route 3A.

In Plymouth center, “open” flags waved outside many businesses, although some remained shuttered. Schools were already closed because of the winter vacation, and some children gleefully sledded hills covered with 12 inches of soft powder.

In Plymouth Harbor, the surge easily breeched the breakwater that protects that inner harbor, and choppy waves battered the Mayflower II at its dock.

In telephone interviews, Sandwich public safety officials said earlier today that flooding is a chronic concern during storms, but added that they are prepared for what may come.

“We’re just monitoring the situation. It’s supposed to be major flooding but we haven’t had any yet,’’ said Sandwich Fire Chief George Russell, who added that residents in potential flood zones have been put on alert. “Flooding happens every storm.”

Sandwich Police Detective Erun Robert said the town has activated its emergency operations center, but does not expect the high tide to lead to emergency evacautions.

“Right now there’s nothing special in place,’’ he said. “We don’t expect any evacuations. Some of the property on the beach is vulnerable, but it depends what way the wind is blowing and the tides.”

In Winthrop, the angry Atlantic breached the sea wall along Winthrop Shore Drive shortly before noon, flooding the oceanside roadway and rendering it impassable for nearly half a mile.

In the nearby Point Shirley neighborhood, often the scene of major flooding during a nor’easter, roadways remained open despite minor flooding, although more flooding was expected at the high tide crested early this afternoon.

In Quincy, city public safety officials were prepared to perform emergency evacuations, but the high tide was largely a nonevent because no significant storm surge formed in Quincy Bay and there were no reports of flooding elsewhere in the city, officials said.

In Scituate, though coastal waters crashed onto the town’s sea wall late last night during high tide, the concrete barrier was able to keep back most of the waves, with some surf spilling over and quickly freezing below the homes’ raised foundations.

Police said the sea wall appeared to experience no structural damage so far.

One Oceanside Drive resident shoveling his SUV out of the snow today said he feared that the forthcoming tide would be significantly worse than last night’s.

From the window inside his house, he’d already seen the buoys bobbing higher than they had before high tide last night. And because the moderate spillover last night had frozen solid on the ground, he said, new floodwaters will wash right over the area without being able to soak into the ground, he said.

In Dorchester, parts of Morrissey Boulevard were closed at 10:30 a.m. due to potential flooding.

Power remained in operation for residents along the coastline, likely because of the light and fluffy snow.

In Scituate, the town administrator’s office said in a statement that the town had fared well through the night, though risks remained as the noon high tide approaches and cleanup crews continue to battle snow accumulation on major thoroughfares.

Frigid temperatures may also cause some wires to snap, the statement said.

“We have weathered the storm okay,” the statement said. “The noon tide will increase flooding and debris.’’

(Contributing to this report were Globe Staff reporters Sean P. Murphy, Michael Rezendes, and John R. Ellement and Globe correspondent Caitlin Gaitan.)

Martine Powers can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @martinepowers.David Filipov can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @davidfilipov.