Looking back at my most-read stories and posts from the past 12 months always provides an interesting – if incomplete – picture of the big news of the year.
This year’s big story by Web traffic was, unsurprisingly, 38 Studios. In fact, when I pulled the numbers I found almost the entire list would be 38 Studios based on sheer traffic. So I’ve split the top 12 list into two lists of six: the top six 38 Studios stories/posts, and the top six non-38 Studios stories posts.
Let’s go to the tape!
#1: 38 Studios misses payroll, can’t pay RI (May 17) – This may have been the most dramatic day of the 38 Studios saga – the day it became clear just how severe the company’s financial troubles were. It was also the most farcical, with the sudden announcement late that afternoon that the company had given a bad check to cover an overdue payment.
Our fast moving Nor’easter continues to pull away after leaving anywhere from 5 to 12 inches of snow last night. Click here for snowfall totals Strong northwest winds behind the storm will gust up to 45mph at times. A High Wind Advisory is in effect until 8pm Some limbs and power lines are “sagging” under the weight of the snow, thus isolated power outages are possible. Also some of the coldest air of the season is on the way for Tonight as lows fall into the teens by dawn Monday. It looks like a storm free stretch of weather ahead next 5-7 days.
While the snow may look pretty on the trees and roads, the weight of the snow will be a hazard overnight and through the day on Sunday.
Winds will be increasing from the northwest through Sunday. Sustained winds of 15-25mph are likely, but gusts between 35-45mph could easily snap already weighted-down tree limbs and power lines. Isolated power outages are possible on Sunday (there have already been a few across RI and MA this evening).
Remember the common sense stuff: if you see a power line down, assume it is live and call the electric company and or police/fire.
Also, it’s a heavy, wet snow and difficult to move….be careful while shoveling.
We’re getting reports of 11″ of snow from Burrillville to Foster to Coventry. With a few more hours of (lighter) accumulating snow, expect a foot of snow in this area. Half of this snow fell between 7 and 10pm when a band of moderate to heavy snow created snowfall rates of 1-2″ per hour. That band has shifted into SE MASS and only lighter snow expected through the rest of the night. -tj
5.3″ in Glocester….
and reports of thunder snow in Niantic, CT…near New London. That’s a sign of some intense snow in that area….
Snow totals so far:
West Greenwich 4.5″
East Greenwich 3.0″
North Smithfield 2.3″
We continue to see some sleet and rain mixing in along the south coast of RI and MA. Eastern Coast of Massachusetts continues to see mainly rain. I think even that rain will turn to all snow a little later in the evening.
Still expecting a general 4-8″ of snow with isolated higher amounts inland.
This storm is beginning to rapidly intensify to our south, which is expected. The impacts on Southern New England are many…especially with travel as visibility and road conditions will be rapidly deteriorating.
This is from the National Weather Service in Taunton:
IMPACTS…SNOW WILL QUICKLY ACCUMULATE AND UNTREATED ROADS WILL
BECOME SNOW COVERED. VISIBILITIES WILL ALSO BE POOR. IN
ADDITION…A SWATH OF WET SNOW MAY RESULT IN A FEW DOWNED TREE
LIMBS AND ISOLATED POWER OUTAGES ACROSS RHODE ISLAND AND
Drive carefully….or better yet, stay home. (Sorry Restaraunts…I know it’s usually a busy night for you).
While the snow has begun to overspread Southern New England, the Storm Prediction Center (a division of the National Weather Service) is saying that snowfall rates could exceed 1″ per hour. We are expecting 4-5hours of moderate to heavy snow through the evening. Here’s their discussion: Mesoscale Discussion. -tj
Storm Predicion Center’s Depiction of Today’s Storm
The ingredients are coming together for a pretty good wallop in southeastern New England from a quick-moving but potent winter storm that will track up the eastern Seaboard and move south and east of Nantucket. It’s a position that puts inland areas of southeastern New England in an area that’s likely to see the heaviest snowfall amounts. The timing of the storm hasn’t changed… accumulation amounts were raised slightly from overnight… impacts are the same.
Here are the main bullet points to take away from this storm:
Snow/Mix arrives Mid-Day… very little accumulation before sunset
Mostly Snow North and West of Providence, Mix of Rain/Snow and Sleet South and East of Providence for a time in the afternoon before Changing to all Snow
Heavy snow after 5pm… Difficult Travel, Snowing at 1-2″/hr
Tapering off after midnight
One of the issues with accumulation amounts will be how far inland the rain/snow line moves. Where rain and sleet mixes in amounts will be held down, but where it stays all snow you can expect at least 6″ of snow. Even on the map where I have 3-6″ of snow, I’m leaning towards the higher end of that range–say 5-6″.
Welcome to another edition of my weekend column – as always, send your takes, tips and trial balloons to firstname.lastname@example.org. For quick hits all week long, follow me on Twitter: @tednesi.
1. I’m fascinated, as a writer and a nerd, by the future of the printed word. Newspapers’ struggles are well-documented, but lately my thoughts have turned to the changing book industry and the Kindle-powered rise of e-books. For a long time I wondered if people would be willing to pay $10 for the digital text of a book with no physical copy to show for their money afterwards. But recently I read two books on my Kindle - Robert Caro’s new LBJ biography and Politico’s final look at the presidential race – and the experience got me thinking about the potential for a change in consumer psychology. Perhaps reading with your Kindle is less like buying a traditional book and more like buying a movie ticket – you pay $10 or so for an immersive cultural experience, and you don’t expect to have something physical afterwards. Better yet, maybe that lower price point (compared with a hardcover) will get people to buy more books than they do now. Of course, if too much of the industry moves to e-books it might be bad news for independent bookstores. We’ll see.
2. I’m pleased to announce that my friend Dan McGowan will be joining WPRI.com next month as our second digital reporter, part of WPRI 12′s continued expansion of our newsroom and our online team. Dan will be covering Rhode Island’s political scene and whatever else is interesting. He first came on my radar screen in 2010, when he was blogging about the Providence mayoral race and related topics for Rhode Island’s Future; since then he’s earned a journalism degree from Boston University and done great original reporting for GoLocalProv. (When McGowan accepted the job, I said to Tim White: “Good. Now he can’t scoop us anymore!”)
Right now, we are expecting a plowable snow for Southern New England. The highest amounts could be concentrated in RI and parts of Bristol County, MA. Here’s the timeline:
First flakes by early afternoon
Snow becomes steadier and heavier through the late afternoon and especially during the evening.
Snow ends early Sunday morning
The impacts could be many. Travel will become difficult in the evening as visibilities will be occasionally dropping in periods of moderate to heavy snow. Roads could become quickly snow covered in the evening, and the roads could become dangerous…especially untreated roadways.
How much should you expect? Generally 3-6″ is expected across the area…maybe a little less near the coast where rain and some sleet could mix in…1-3″ there. What we will have to watch out for is the development of a coastal front where cold air bumps up against milder ocean air. This could enhance snow fall in inland areas…northern RI and inland Bristol/Norfolk Counties in Massachusetts.
Here’s my latest thinking…..
These numbers are highly track dependent. We will be monitoring the track of the storm closely. More info will be pouring into the weather center after 9pm…be sure to check back for updates!
I’ve been analyzing all of the new weather data coming in through the morning, and there was a definite trend emerging… one that shows the storm center intensifying sooner and tracking more northwest (closer to the coast). Those are two ingredients that would increase our snowfall potential. I “upped” my forecast snowfall accumulations slightly to account for the new model information… but I didn’t want to go too crazy until we made sure this was a continuing trend. Here’s my latest thinking:
Saturday Snow Accums
With the storm tracking a little closer, there’s a better chance of some rain mixing in south and east of Providence… at least for a time Saturday afternoon and evening. As the storm intensifies, though, cold air should be dragged down and several hours of accumulating snow looks like even on Cape Cod. I do want to note that there are several computer models that are showing even higher snowfall potential– in the 6-12″ range. We’ll keep you updated if we decide to go with those higher amounts.
Another round of unsettled weather moves in to southern New England, and this time, the storm track favors mostly snow for our area.
Today is a “catch your breath” day with dry skies and diminishing winds in the afternoon. It will be chilly with highs in the mid to upper 30s. By late tonight, clouds start to roll in ahead of an area of low pressure developing off the NC/VA coastline. The storm looks to track south of our area, with light snow starting to fall by about mid-day. The snow will pick up in intensity late afternoon and evening before tapering off overnight. Along the immediate coast, Cape and Islands the snow may mix with or change to rain for a time.
The storm system is a fast mover… and there’s a few variables in play for determining how much snow we will get. One is the storm track…. right now it looks like the storm will be just outside of the 40N/70W “benchmark” for southern New England snow storms, keeping the heaviest of the precipitation just off the coast. Only a slight shift in the track northward would bring heavier amounts into RI/SE MA. Another factor is when the storm intensifies. Latest guidance has the storm intensifying AFTER it’s made it’s closest pass to us… again, sparing the area a blockbuster storm. If the storm intensifies a few hours earlier, our amounts could be heavier. A third factor is the rain/snow line. Right now, the guidance I’m looking at keeps most of our area cold enough for snow… but if the rain/snow line creeps north and we see more of a rain/snow mix, then our amounts would be lower.
The overnight computer model guidance were all in good agreement with the track of the storm and QPF (quantitative precipitation amounts) between .25 and .42″… which brought me to my 2-5″ snowfall forecast.
Snow Accums Forecast for Saturday-Sat. Night
06z NAM Snow Accums
The bottom line is that we are still trying to iron out some important details, and you’ll want to check back on the WPRI website for additional updates. Most likely, our area will see a plow-able and shovel-able snow… probably the heartiest snow event of the season so far for most of RI/SE MA, except perhaps for northwestern suburbs.
Which places grab your eye? Burrillville, Glocester, Coventry, West Greenwich, Exeter – the geographically large places in the western part of the state that cover a lot of land.
But anybody who knows anything about Rhode Island knows those five communities aren’t where the vast majority of Rhode Islanders live. Their combined population of 73,104 residents is less than half the size of Providence’s and slightly smaller than Warwick’s or Cranston’s.
That’s where another type of map can come in handy – a cartogram, in this case a population cartogram, which rescales political jurisdictions to reflect how many people live in them. (Cartograms have become popular with Democrats who don’t like the sea of red they see when they look at national election results.)
Happily, the good folks at The Providence Plan – which just celebrated its 20th anniversary – have the tools and the data to create a population cartogram for Rhode Island. Rebecca Lee, assistant director of ProvPlan’s information group, created this one for WPRI.com using 2010 U.S. Census data:
(Thank you to The Rhode Island Foundation’s Jessica David and ProvPlan’s Andrew Bramson for their help.)
Rhode Island is going to need a pretty sizable reversal in its ongoing population decline if the state wants to avoid losing one of its two congressional seats following the next U.S. Census in 2020.
“For 80 years, tiny Rhode Island has stubbornly remained at two House seats and four electoral votes,” Politico’s Charlie Mahtesian wrote after new population estimates were released last week. “But it’s on a path to lose a seat and join the ranks of the states with a single at-large seat.”
Right now the states with one at-large U.S. House seat are South Dakota, North Dakota, Vermont, Alaska, Delaware, Wyoming and Montana.
Rhode Island has had at least two U.S. House seats since 1793, and from 1913 to 1933 the state briefly had three. Downsizing to an at-large seat starting in 2022 would shift the dynamic in Rhode Island’s congressional delegation, since all three members of Congress – the two U.S. senators and one House lawmaker – will represent the whole state. It could also make it even harder for Republicans to win federal office.
Rhode Island’s Republican Party took it on the chin last month, once again failing to win a single federal or statewide office and managing to lose seven of their 18 seats in the General Assembly. Perhaps that shouldn’t be a surprise, since just 10% of Rhode Island voters are registered Republicans.
If it’s any consolation, Rhode Island Republicans aren’t alone in their troubles – at least two other state GOPs are reeling in the aftermath of this year’s voting. The Boston Phoenix’s David Bernstein reports on the Massachusetts Republican Party’s problems:
But this year, there’s something different about the postmortems, in the wake of Scott Brown’s eight-point loss for re-election to the US Senate and Richard Tisei’s narrow defeat to Congressman John Tierney.
This time, it’s GOP insiders and officeholders in the state suggesting that their cause is hopeless — that their numerical and institutional disadvantages just might mean that they simply cannot win, beyond a small smattering of state legislative districts and countywide law-enforcement positions. …
The defeatism within the party suggests that top-flight candidates might be hard to recruit. If so, the Democrats’ stranglehold on the state will only tighten. And we will look back at 2012 as the year the MassGOP surrendered.
Just when it looked like things couldn’t get any worse for Republicans in California, it appears they did. And at the congressional level, there are still three uncalled House races where GOP incumbents are trailing their Democratic challengers with 100 percent of the votes in. …
The presidential exit polls paint an especially grim picture that suggests the state won’t be competitive in any way for a long time. Obama won every income group, every education group, big and small cities, suburbs and independents.
One point that stands out in all three cases is that the occasional election of a prominent Republican officeholder isn’t necessarily a signal that the state party’s long-term prospects are improving.
With bright, cold morning sunshine greeting us today.. all appears quiet. However, there is a major storm system making it way into the northeast today… one that will have a variety of weather threats. For southern New England, this will be a storm that will bring mostly a windswept rain. By the time the storm lifts away around 1-2″ of rain will fall across RI and southeastern MA.
The cold air that greeted us this morning will slowly fade under a strong easterly-northeasterly wind this evening and tonight. While our area may briefly begin with a mix of sleet or wet snow as the precipitation begins (between 7-11pm), a quick changeover to plain rain is expected. The exception to that, locally, will be far northwestern RI. Updated computer models this morning are indicating that there may be wintry weather into the early hours of Thursday morning (maybe until 2-3am). That’s the area–Cumberland, Burrillville, Foster, Smithfield–that could see a few inches of accumulation, while the rest of southern New England sees little to no accumulating snow.
Accums through Tonight
This will be a storm that produces white gold for ski areas from the Berkshires to VT and NH… with some spots picking up near a foot of snow! Perfect timing with the holiday week!
GFS Snow Totals through 7pm Thursday
The other component with this storm will be the strong winds. Winds will be howling late at night, and areas south and east of Providence are under a high wind watch. East-northeast winds will be sustained around 25-35mph with gusts 45 to near 60mph. Isolated power outages and wind damage are possible.
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed says he hasn’t made up his mind yet about whether to support a push by some of his colleagues to change the Senate’s filibuster rules to make it harder for Republicans to block legislation.
“I haven’t made a conclusion,” Reed told WPRI 12′s Tim White last week. “I am looking very carefully.”
“I am – as I have had to do with everything – thinking very carefully about what we’re doing so that I can make the best possible decision on behalf of all Rhode Islanders and indeed, when it comes to procedures in the Senate, for the country at large,” Reed said. “Not just for the moment, but for the future of the country.”
The next storm I am tracking arrives Wednesday night and lasts into Thursday. Rain and heavy wind will be the primary impacts with this system. Some gusts up to 50 or 60 mph are possible during the overnight and very early morning hours of Thursday. Wind damage and power outages are possible, but they may be isolated. We will know more in the next 24 hours as we get closer to the storm’s arrival.
A second concern will be snow, sleet, and even some freezing rain at the onset of the storm (between 7-11 PM) on Wednesday. Most of our area won’t see much in the way of accumulation, but an 1-2″ is possible north and west of 295.
If you are driving into northern Connecticut or west central Massachusetts, snow accumulations will be much higher. 8-10″ of snow are possible along and just north of the Mass Pike. Plan for tough travel Wednesday night into Thursday morning in this area! -Pete Mangione
Simon Jenkins, the veteran British journalist who writes for The Guardian, offered a wonderful reflection last year on why the annual Yuletide celebration retains its power in our cynical age – all the more powerful considering Jenkins himself is an unapologetic atheist:
Cleared of its commercial and religious clutter it has become the nation’s collective version of a Buddhist sabbatical, an increasingly extended retreat into family and self almost devoid of externalities. It is a time when Britons behave quite unlike they do for the rest of the year. In other words, they behave quite well. …
Suddenly all goes quiet. … The volume of public life is silenced. Family is acknowledged before colleagues and friends. Duty is paid to household gods in an annual census of filial piety. Family quarrels are supposedly suppressed, while children and old people acquire a brief moment in the spotlight. We know of the strains and stresses of Christmas, but I wonder how many families have been repaired and rescued through its ritual kindnesses. What if there were no such moment?
For the more religiously inclined, Pope Benedict XVI published a Christmas commentary in the Financial Times on Dec. 20 – the first time a pontiff has ever contributed to a secular newspaper’s opinion page. It comes the same month the Pope joined Twitter. An excerpt:
The birth of Christ challenges us to reassess our priorities, our values, our very way of life. While Christmas is undoubtedly a time of great joy, it is also an occasion for deep reflection, even an examination of conscience. At the end of a year that has meant economic hardship for many, what can we learn from the humility, the poverty, the simplicity of the crib scene?
Christmas can be the time in which we learn to read the Gospel, to get to know Jesus not only as the Child in the manger, but as the one in whom we recognize God made Man.
It is in the Gospel that Christians find inspiration for their daily lives and their involvement in worldly affairs – be it in the Houses of Parliament or the Stock Exchange. Christians shouldn’t shun the world; they should engage with it. But their involvement in politics and economics should transcend every form of ideology.
And on a lighter note, did you know the late but still ubiquitous Yuletide orchestra-leader Ray Coniff was born and raised in Attleboro? He played trombone in the AHS band, I discovered a few years ago.
Though there are a lot of great Christmas songs, Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” remains my favorite. Like other classics of the genre – “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” to name two – the song has a yearning quality, perhaps partly because it was written during World War II.
Bing Crosby’s original recording of the song is the best-selling single of all time, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, and it’s still played regularly on the radio and in the malls. Massachusetts’ own Roy Harris had a nice essay about that in The Wall Street Journal a few years ago.
To my mind, though, Crosby’s best version of “White Christmas” isn’t the famous one with the orchestra – it’s the simple, stripped-down rendition he sings at the beginning of the 1954 movie of the same name. Thanks to YouTube, you can watch it now and decide for yourself:
Of course, this was just one of the many times Crosby sang “White Christmas” over the years. From 1962 to 1977, television viewers could hear a new performance on his annual Christmas specials. But judging by this clip from the 1967 edition, Crosby’s kids had gotten a little bored with their dad’s rendition:
A safe and happy holiday to you and yours!
A version of this post was first published in 2010.
“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care” – in Newport?
Unbeknownst to most Rhode Islanders, the beloved holiday poem that begins “Twas the night before Christmas” and that created the modern image of Santa Claus was (probably) written by one of their fellow residents: Clement Clarke Moore.
Moore wasn’t a Rhode Islander yet when the poem was first published in 1823 as “A Visit from St. Nicholas”; at that time he was a professor of oriental and Greek literature in New York.
But in 1850 Moore bought a Victorian house at 25 Catherine Street in Newport and was apparently active in the community, helping to fund what eventually became Touro Park. He lived on Catherine Street until his death in 1863, and his funeral was at the city’s Trinity Church, where he owned a pew.
Newport hasn’t forgotten Moore: the annual Christmas in Newport celebrations have included stops at his home on Catherine Street and at Trinity Church, as The New York Times noted in 2006. In the 1950s and ’60s the poem was read annually before the fireplace in Moore’s former home, with U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell doing the honors in 1965.
Moore’s 14 yuletide stanzas have had a profound impact. “Not until St. Nicholas passed through the crucible of Dr. Clement Clarke Moore’s imagination did the patron saint of childhood ever ride a sleigh, or have eight tiny reindeer with bells to convey him over the rooftops,” a magazine article declared the year Moore died.
Moore isn’t our region’s only contribution to the holiday, Copley News’ James O’Hara reported in 1972:
Remove from the Christmas season the notable contributions made by New Englanders – and the list of “firsts” is a long one – and there would be little left of the joy, magic and enchantment of the universal holiday.
Well known is the fact that Louis Prang in Boston introduced the first religious Christmas cards in the United States in 1874. Also known to most everyone is the fact that the lyrics of the song “O Little Town of Bethlehem” were written in 1865 by Philip Brooks, Episcopal bishop of Boston and that window candles first glowed in a home on Beacon Hill.
But perhaps less well known is that Massachusetts claims the first department store Santa Claus ….
James Edgar of Brockton was the first to appear as Santa Claus in a store. He was the owner of The Boston Store, which he opened in 1878 and operated until he died shortly before World War I.
As for Clement Clarke Moore and “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” the most famous arrangement of the poem is probably by the choral group Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians. Here’s their 1961 recording:
Merry Christmas! After a lack of snow through most of December, we’re going to get a little burst of wintry weather… just as Santa makes his rounds tonight.
The National Weather Service has placed RI and most of SE MA under a WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY from 10pm tonight until 10am on Christmas morning. The concern is that light snow and freezing rain will lead to slick conditions on untreated roadways and sidewalks.
Winter Weather Advisory
The snow should begin near midnight and continue until about mid-day on Christmas. Towards the coast, temperatures will warm enough to see mainly rain, and and little to no accumulation is expected. Away from the coast a coating to an inch or 2″ of snow can be expected… with higher amounts further inland.
Snow Accums through Christmas Day
The active weather pattern continues into the end of the month, with 2 more storm systems in the line up this week. After a dry “day” on Wednesday, rain will move in Wednesday evening and night.. it may be cold enough for a brief period of a wintry mix before changing to a plain, soaking, raw rainfall through Thursday. By the weekend yet another storm is in the works. Right now, the timing looks to be Saturday evening through Sunday… with a wintry mix or rain.
A reader of these pages could be excused for concluding that the state will no doubt prevail in the lawsuits brought by the thousands of current and retired public employees affected by the 2011 Rhode Island Retirement Security Act. …
But these opinions gloss over some real legal issues. …
The “Contract Clause” of the Rhode Island Constitution (in the same language as the U.S. Constitution) prohibits the state from passing “any law impairing the obligation of contracts.” The retirees assert that the pension law does just that by reducing the annual pension benefits they earned during a career of state employment — benefits set forth in Rhode Island law. …
I am not predicting that the plaintiffs will win their cases. I write because the commentary on these pages does not take the plaintiffs’ arguments seriously. Some might wish it were not so, but judicial review of the pension reform law is the next step unless these cases are settled. If we are going to have an informed public debate about the desirability of settlement talks, a more balanced description of the legal landscape seems in order.
Yelnosky’s points reinforce others published here in the past – NEARI’s Robert Walsh made the union’s case at length when the suit was filed, and pension-law expert Amy Monahan of the University of Minnesota warned a year ago that this was a major legal gamble by Treasurer Raimondo and other Rhode Island leaders.
As Tim White has emphasized in his reporting, the key players here almost certainly will be the five justices of the Rhode Island Supreme Court: Suttell, Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson and Indeglia. Are they willing to risk a “judicial backlash,” as Harvard Law’s Noah Feldman put it, by striking down a law backed by large majorities in the General Assembly, and in doing so place a major burden on strained state and local budgets?
Of course, as one smart legal observer reminded me recently, the justices also have the option of throwing out only part of the law and keeping the rest. The fiscal impacts of a mixed verdict will all depend on how the justices carve up the law’s provisions. Either way, taxpayers and their elected representatives should at least be contemplating what they’d do the day after the justices strike down the law.
I realize that this line from Dumb and Dumber is one of the most overused quotes in history, but I figured it is fitting. There is a good chance we will see some snow flakes Christmas Eve night into Christmas Day.
As for accumulations, the map below is not something you typically see for a snow forecast. Usually, we put snow ranges in different spots on the map. In this case, I am putting percentages on the map. Why am I doing this? Because we are still 48 hours away from this event, and a lot can change. Here are the 2 most likely scenarios that would limit accumulations:
1) Snow changes quickly to rain and never has a chance to accumulate.
2) The snow doesn’t fall hard enough for it to stick…and we only get accumulation on grassy surfaces.