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They Thought NWS Station Had 10 More Years. Now, Just Days

Cape Cod station abandoned 2 weeks ago due to coastal erosion to be razed later this month
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2021 12:55 PM CDT

(Newser) – Crashing waves were clearly eroding the land around a National Weather Service station on Massachusetts' Cape Cod. Still, officials thought it would stand for another 10 years at least. That's not the case now. The Chatham station, which has been in use for 50 years, was abandoned on March 31 "due to fears the property could fall into the Atlantic Ocean," reports the Guardian. "We'd [known] for a long time there was erosion, but the pace of it caught everyone by surprise," says meteorologist Andy Nash, who runs the NWS' Boston office. The station once stood 100 feet from the sea, but last year brought several intense storms, one of which erased 6 feet of land in one day. "We started losing a foot of a bluff a week," Nash says. Soon, the building was only 30 feet from the sea, and without its parking lot. "We were a couple of storms from a very big problem."

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Twice a day since 1970, station officials have sent up a weather balloon to gauge temperature, humidity levels, and wind speeds. This information won't be recorded in the short term; the station is to be razed this month. But Nash says a new Cape Cod weather station will eventually be built on higher ground, further away from the coast. "We have to recognize that where we think the beach is, is a very temporary line," John Englander of the Rising Seas Institute recently told the Cape Cod Times. "We have seen changes in the past 30 years, but we haven't seen nothing yet." He blames climate change, as does Andrew Ashton, an associate scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "What's happened with the station is an indication of what we will see along the whole coast," he tells the Guardian. (Read more climate change stories.)

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