Heat wave and Hurricane Lee create extreme weather conditions in Massachusetts
Since the school year began, Brandeis students have been fluctuating between being drenched in sweat to being soaked from rainfall.
In the past two weeks, extreme weather conditions have had adverse impacts on the Brandeis community and led local government officials to declare a “state of emergency.”
From Sept. 3 to Sept. 9, the greater Boston area faced a heat wave with heat index values approaching 100 degrees. Meteorologists from the National Weather Service warned Boston residents about the risk of heat exhaustion and heat illnesses.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu declared a “heat emergency” on Sept. 7. “The impacts of climate change are more palpable than ever, with extreme heat posing risk to our communities,” she said in a public statement. To mitigate the impact of the heat, Boston set up 15 cooling centers at Boston Centers for Youth & Families, 64 splash pads located at parks and playgrounds across the city, and open access to Boston Public Library locations for residents who need relief from the heat.
On Sept. 5, Andrea Dine, vice president of student affairs, sent an email to Brandeis students “to share some reminders about staying safe and comfortable until the temperature cools down.” The reminders included staying hydrated, avoiding strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day, limiting sun exposure, closing curtains to reduce the temperature of indoor spaces, and not leaving people or pets in closed vehicles. Dine’s email also announced that both the Shapiro Campus Center and Usdan Student Center would be available 24/7 through Sept. 9 for students needing to cool down.
Many students without air conditioned housing opted to stay in the SCC or Usdan Student Center overnight. On Sept. 7, an Instagram account called @ac_for_brandeis posted a graphic of the Brandeis University sign engulfed in flames. The caption states, “Let’s talk numbers: Brandeis had a revenue of $359M in 2019. Cost of AC for all undergrads? A measly $1.6M a year. That’s less than 0.5% of their total revenue.” The account also pointed out that Brandeis policy does not allow students to keep their own AC units either.
The heat wave was immediately followed by rain and wind due to the aftereffects of Hurricane Lee moving up the coast. According to CBS News, “Lee is no longer a hurricane, but it brought tropical storm-force wind gusts to Cape Cod, the islands, and other coastal locations in Massachusetts early Saturday morning.”
On Sept. 15, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey declared a state of emergency and requested that the Federal Emergency Management Agency issue a Pre-Disaster Emergency Declaration as Hurricane Lee approached. Healey also activated 50 National Guard members to aid with storm preparations and emergency response.
Many coastal cities reported incidents of fallen trees on power lines and roads, causing thousands of power outages.
The highest wind speeds were recorded in Dennis, Massachusetts at 63 mph. Other coastal provinces significantly impacted by Lee include Nantucket, Gloucester, and Martha’s Vineyard.
On average, Massachusetts receives 48 inches of rain per year, with average monthly rainfall between three and four inches for all regions of the state. At the time of publication, a total of 1.9 inches of rain were recorded in Massachusetts during the month of September, and 42.8 inches of rain were recorded in Massachusetts in 2023 thus far.