First Riley, Then Quinn: 5 Problems With Back-to-Back Nor'easters

Sean Breslin
Published: March 6, 2018

Two nor'easters in less than a week's time can be a nightmare.

Logistically, officials must rush recovery projects to completion and restart plans to prepare an entire region for another shot of heavy snow, coastal flooding, strong winds or whatever else the second storm system might bring. The land is vulnerable, and consecutive storms can be a one-two punch that leaves widespread damage.

(MORE: Check the Forecast for Winter Storm Quinn)

With Winter Storm Riley in the rear-view mirror and Quinn gearing up to be the second coastal storm in less than a week, here are five ways consecutive nor'easters can really wreak havoc in the Northeast.

1. Power Outages Are Still Lingering

A utility worker attaches wires on a power pole, Tuesday, March 6, 2018, in Watertown, Massachusetts.
(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 200,000 homes and businesses were still without power in the Northeast. If crews can't get power restored to all of these homes in the next 24 hours – utility companies have said some customers might not have electricity until later in the week – hundreds or thousands of residents might have to ride out the snowstorm with no lights or heating.

Crews say they're working as hard as they can to restore power to everyone before Quinn arrives, but that's a tall task for a region that had more than 1 million outages over the weekend due to Winter Storm Riley.

2. Trees Are Vulnerable

Vehicles drive under a white pine tree that is leaning across the road in Freetown, Massachusetts, on Tuesday, March 6, 2018.
(Peter Pereira/Standard Times via AP)

In a heavily wooded region where thousands of trees fell during Riley, winds from Quinn could be the knockout punch for already weakened vegetation. Trees amaged but are being held up by other trees could be blown loose and knocked to the ground by wind gusts from the second storm. And in areas where heavy rainfall and coastal flooding weakened the soil, it won't take much to uproot trees.

3. The Coastline Is Already Eroded

Heavy equipment operators work to clear away several feet of sand that had covered Central Avenue in Scituate, Massachusetts, on Sunday, March 4, 2018.
(Greg Derr/The Quincy Patriot Ledger via AP)

The angry sea pounded at the coastline for days in New England as high tides ate away at the shore for more than 72 hours during Riley. Crews have been working to rebuild the shoreline as fast as they can, but with limited time between storms, it won't be possible to completely restore hundreds of miles of the coast.

The silver lining is that meteorologists don't expect Quinn to deal as severe a blow to the coastline as Riley, so officials hope impacts will be less extreme in the coming days compared to the damage they saw over the weekend.

4. Flood Damage Could Be Worsened

Shellfisherman Arthur Martinez of Truro walks along the breakwater and past the 42-foot vessel Artemis Sunday, March 4, 2018 in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
(Merrily Cassidy/Cape Cod Times via AP)

Homes and businesses that suffered flood damage from one nor'easter might be forced to deal with the invading sea yet again with the next. It's helpful to have weeks or months between storms so a proper damage survey can be performed and measures can be taken to prevent flooding during the next storm.

But when the storms come just days apart, that's not so easy. Along the coast, residents are working feverishly to prepare their homes for Quinn with hopes that the flooding won't be as severe in their town.

5. Storm Fatigue Is a Real Thing

Jane, left, and Dan Hannigan walk through a debris-laden trail along Rebecca Road near the lighthouse in Scituate, Massachusetts, in the aftermath of Winter Storm Riley on Sunday, March 4, 2018.
(Matt West/The Boston Herald via AP)

Let's face it, being stuck inside for days while riding out a storm is a headache. Finding ways to eat, do other daily tasks and simply pass the time can be brutal, especially if the power is out. Cabin fever is real, and it spreads fast.

Being forced to hunker down and ride out another powerful coastal storm just days after the first one can lead to boredom and even complacency. It's important to take both storms seriously and be sure to restock all supplies.


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