USA – Winter Storm Riley Causes Coastal Flooding

Much of Northeast and northern Mid-Atlantic USA was slammed with heavy snow, heavy rain and high winds from a powerful storm system named “Winter Storm Riley” on 02 March 2018.

At least 6 people were killed, mostly as a result of falling debris from strong winds. Over 3,000 flights were cancelled and almost 2 million people were left without power. Some coastal areas have seen flooding caused by storm surge, waves, high tides and strong winds.

The storm is expected to taper off by Saturday. NWS said “As the system continues to pull away from the coast conditions will improve, although light snow showers will linger over the Great Lakes and interior New England. Drier air will enter the region as high pressure builds in wake of the front.”

Associated Press said that Winter Storm Riley dropped more than a foot (30.5cm) of snow in the western and northern parts of New York state, as heavy rain lashed coastal areas.

The Washington Post reported that at least six people were killed when fierce winds brought trees crashing down on roads, homes and other buildings.

Strong winds have affected areas up and down the Eastern seaboard in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

NWS DC/Baltimore said late last night that Dulles Airport had reported gusts over 50 mph for over 12 hours straight. “This is a rare occurrence,” they added. NWS Boston recorded 93 mph gusts in Barnstable, Massachusetts on 02 March.

Nearlytwo million people have been left without electricity after winds and falling trees downed power lines.

More than 3,000 domestic and international flights were cancelled on Friday and more than 2,400 others were delayed, according to the website FlightAware.

Coastal Floods

The combination of high tides, waves and strong winds brought some coastal flooding along the eastern coastline for the second time this year.

Rescuers evacuate a resident and a dog from his home in Quincy, Massachusetts during a winter storm that hit the region on 02 March, 2018. Local authorities called on members of the Massachusetts National Guard to transport flood victims for safety using medium and light tactical vehicles that could cross the high water. (Photo by Spc. Samuel Keenan)

Just a few weeks ago Boston Harbor reached record highs during a winter storm in early January. Towns and cities on the New England coast were inundated with icy water from the high tide. In Massachusetts, National Guard, police and fire departments were called on to help evacuate residents from flooded homes and rescue stranded drivers.

During Storm Riley yesterday, NWS Boston said their greatest concern was coastal flooding and erosion. Strong winds, high waves and storm surge, along with multiple high tide cycles, some of them potentially record breaking means that coastal location are likely to suffer damage and could be cutoff for long periods.

On 03 March NWS Boston listed areas in their jurisdiction affected by flooding, as reported by local observers. Areas included: Quincy, Essex, Marshfield, Plymouth, Winthrop, Sandwich, Orleans, Saugus, South Boston. Coastal roads have been flooded and some cars left stranded.

Quincy MA Police Dept said they were called out to make flood rescues in Houghs Neck, where roads were flooded and closed off.

Floods in Quincy, MA during winter storm Riley March 2018. Photo: Quincy Police Dept

The Nantucket tide gauge peaked at 6.69 feet at high tide just before 01:00 hours, 03 March, with a storm surge of 3.3 feet.

The high tide at Boston Harbor peaked at 13.83 feet just before midnight, with a storm surge of 2.9 feet. The earlier tide at around 11:00 on 02 March brought levels to 14.67 feet.

Boston Harbor levels during winter storm Riley, March 2018. Image: NWS

Local media reported roads that were flooded along the New Jersey coast in Absecon, Brick, Belmar, Neptune and Highlands.

River Flooding

Away from the coast, snowmelt and rain caused some increase in river levels in New Jersey.

The Millstone River at Griggstown, New Jersey, reached moderate flood stage and stood at 12.63 feet as of early 03 March. The Millstone River at Blackwells Mills was 9.07 feet and rising. Flood stage is 9.0 feet.

Coastal Flood Warnings

Coastal flood warnings remain in place for areas of Monmouth County and Middlesex County in New Jersey, with storm surge of about 2.0 to 2.5 feet and waves of up to 14 feet expected until Sunday.

Coastal flood warnings were also in place for Eastern Massachusetts coast from Salisbury to Plymouth, including Boston, and in particular for Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, where a storm surge of around 3.5 feet was expected during the high tide on the afternoon of 03 March, 2018.

NWS Boston said “Widespread inundation of coastal roads and basements with life-threatening inundation depths of 4 feet likely in some spots. Some neighborhoods will be cut off for an extended time. This remains a very dangerous storm.”

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Flood Summary

Last updated: March 3, 2018
Winter Storm Riley, Eastern USA, March 2018
March 2, 2018
Coastal flood, Storm surge
Storm surge


A - Quincy
B - Absecon
C - Griggstown
D - Nantucket
E - Scituate


Additional statistics
4.47 metres
Boston Harbor - March 2 to March 2, 2018


100 people
Quincy - March 2 to March 3, 2018