Wind in Boston Metro Microclimates


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Aug 28, 2019
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I know people in Boston seem unfazed by weather, but as a relative newcomer, the thing that surprised me most was the wind. Boston is the windiest city in the US -

I live in the south end and on windy days, it’s very unpleasant to walk in certain areas like Harrison Ave between Ink Block and Chinatown, the road in front of ICA in Seaport, or walking on Clarendon between Stuart and St James. But other areas can be calm.

Is there any resource that can help navigate these windy areas? For example, today is in the 60s and windy, but I don’t know how to map a nice walk to escape wind, or if it’s even possible. Or are there places in the metro area that are less windy like further inland?
For wind reports, I find windfinder to be the best (that link will point you to a map). There are individual weather stations but it won't get you an idea of the "microclimate".

For newer buildings, sometimes they post a wind analysis of the proposed structure. Here's an example of MXD II at Kendall Sq (the new Google building: page 19). As you can see, the expected amount of wind varies a lot depending on where you are in relation to the building, and which way the wind is blowing.

If I had to to minimize my time in the wind, what I'd do is get a general sense of where the wind is blowing via windfinder, and then walk in the "shadows" as much as possible.
Oof...walking from South Station to my old job at Channel Ctr. was bad for that. Summer St. makes a right unpleasant wind tunnel between the Ft. Point Channel and the open Harbor at Reserve Channel when it's blowing out of a due East direction. The street just focuses it all, and it's probably getting worse by the year as more new buildings frame that airflow. I thought I was unfazed by the Back Bay/Financial District wind tunnel by that point, but those places are relatively well-buffered compared to the superhighway of air off the frigid Atlantic that blows down Seaport thoroughfares. I used to have to look down and power through on the walk over the bridge between Fidelity and the Melcher St. overhang of the Harborwalk because nothing was taking any edge off the pure icy bite.
Article from the globe on this topic -

Here is the list:
The wind tunnels of Boston

1. Stuart Street between Trinity Place and Clarendon Street (at the base of the former John Hancock Tower)

2. The base of One Beacon Street at the intersection of Beacon, Tremont, and School streets

3. Huntington Avenue at West Newton Street (at the back entrance to the Prudential complex, across from the Christian Science Center)

4. International Village adjacent to Ruggles Station steps (on the Northeastern University campus)

5. Pedestrian plaza between Northern Avenue and Seaport Boulevard (near Farnsworth Street and Courthouse Way)

6. Dewey Square at the base of the Federal Reserve building adjacent to South Station
The Hancock/Clarendon wind tunnel can take a drizzly afternoon and turn that short stretch into a hurricane. I've made the mistake a few times before of coming out of Back Bay station during wet weather and proceeding down Stuart only to be soaked through and through because the wind makes the rain that much more intense.

Will be interesting to see how the new Raffles and Back Bay Station towers effect this.
I'd go so far as to make "shelter" requirements proportionate to the height of a building. The higher it goes, the deeper & wider awnings over the sidewalk would have to be (or the broader the imputed 20 year canopy of trees would have to be)
Hawley Street from Franklin to Summer, now that MTower has been constructed, is an absolute howler. I would sincerely guess that it causes a tripling of the prevailing/ambient windspeed in DTX at any one time, as gusts blast the east face of MTower (compounded by hitting the west face of 101 Arch & south face of 33 Arch) and downdraft and then funnel.