Axios Boston

Picture of the Boston skyline

February 03, 2023

It's Friday, and it's going to be cold. So, so cold.

🥶 Today's weather: 7°F degrees by nightfall with winds up to 50 mph in some areas. Negative 6°F overnight. Pipe-freezing cold. Check-on-your-elderly-neighbors cold. Just don't go outside.

Situational Awareness: There's a cold-weather emergency in effect now through Sunday.

Today's newsletter is 839 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: 🥵 Winter hotness

Data: NOAA; Chart: Axios Visuals

Even though we’re set for a potentially record-breaking cold snap this weekend, last month marked one of the warmest Januarys on record, with an average temperature well above freezing.

Why it matters: While it might be nice to have an atypically balmy winter instead of mountains of snow, warmer air means more pests and challenges for the winter recreation and timber industries.

  • The first month of 2023 averaged 37.8°F, making it the fifth warmest January since accurate record-keeping began in 1872.
  • 2020 was slightly warmer at 38°F and the warmest it's ever been in January was 39.3°F in 1913.

The big picture, via Axios' Andrew Freedman: With human-caused climate change, winters are warming faster than summers in much of the U.S., and the warmth throughout the northeast last month was noteworthy and consistent with that trend.

  • Winter average temperatures in the region are increasing around 160% faster than the overall annual averages, according to the state.

❄️ Warmer temperatures have already decreased our likelihood of seeing snow-covered white Christmases in New England.

  • But hotter summers are also already here, with Nantucket notching a July last year that was 4.6°F hotter than average for the island.

A climate report issued last year forecast that Massachusetts' warmest days will continue to feel hotter and hotter.

  • What felt like a hot 81°F day historically will feel like 94°F in 2050 and even 99°F in 2070.

Yes, but: Jack Frost is back in a big way starting later today, when a blast of arctic air will ruin everyone's weekend and send temperatures into the negative single digits.

2. Vocational school admissions scrutinized

Illustration of a giant hand writing grades on a revolving door

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new federal lawsuit against Massachusetts education leaders claims the state lets vocational and technical schools "systematically exclude" at-risk students.

The big picture: Votechs have been described as game-changers for low-income, nonwhite students seeking stable, well-paying careers in the trades. But advocates argue the admissions process is booting eligible candidates who fall under those categories.

Driving the news: The civil complaint was filed by Lawyers for Civil Rights on behalf of education advocates and two high school students of color.

  • Advocates are calling the admissions process at votech schools discriminatory and asking the U.S. Department of Education to intervene.

Zoom in: The schools use a ranking system to admit applicants based on grades, attendance, interviews and other factors. Like private schools, they typically only accept the highest-ranking students, the complaint says.

  • Advocates say the ranking system undermines traditionally marginalized groups like students who are nonwhite, low-income, English language learners and disabled — all of whom are protected under federal law.

By the numbers: Of students who applied to votech schools for the 2022-2023 school year, 55% of the students of color were offered admission, compared to 69% of the white students, the complaint states, citing state data.

  • 54% of students from economically disadvantaged families received offers compared to 72% of their peers, per the complaint.
  • 44% of English language learners got offers, compared to 64% of non-ELLs.
  • 54% of students with disabilities received admissions offers compared to 65% of students without disabilities.

The state Department of Early and Secondary Education said in a statement it is reviewing the lawsuit and “cannot comment on the allegations at this time.”

3. 🔙 Back that Mass. Up: News from around the commonwealth

Illustration of a seagull wearing sunglasses looking over its shoulder.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

💵 Just in time for bone-chilling temperatures, the state ordered utility companies to lower the price of natural gas by 4-5%. (WBUR)

🥶 Community centers, South Station and branches of the Boston Public Library will be open as warming centers throughout the cold weekend. (WCVB)

🤝 Acting MBTA General Manager Jeff Gonneville is trying to build trust within the agency and with the public as the T tackles a series of serious problems. (Commonwealth)

4. 🌤 You might just start seeing the sun again

Sunset on the Common. Photo: Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

For the first time since daylight saving time ended Nov. 5, the sun will set in Boston at 5pm today.

Why it matters: Besides the extra vitamin D, the nearly 2 extra minutes of daylight each day gives us more time to get out and enjoy what's left of winter.

What's next: By March 11, we’ll get a 5:45pm sunset before daylight saving time kicks back in and shifts it to around an hour later.

Deehan's thought bubble: For you morning people like me, rest assured knowing that we'll see the earliest sunrise at 6:03am also on March 11 before that shifts to 7:01am after daylight saving.

New jobs to check out

💼 See who’s hiring around the city.

  1. Audit Senior Manager, Asset Management at KPMG.
  2. Head, Monitoring & Programmatic Enhancement at Takeda.
  3. Contractor, Investment Writer at Barings.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job.

5. 🎸 Hear, here! Boston-area concerts this weekend

Joey Belladonna and Scott Ian get metal thrashing mad last summer. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

  • Hope you got your GTL done because DJ Pauly D is spinning at Big Night Live — 9:30pm
  • Local Boston noise rockers The Freqs have a new EP called Poachers and they'll be upstairs at the Middle East — 8pm
  • Singer Anders Osborne takes the main stage at City Winery — 7pm
  • New York metal legends Anthrax come to the House of Blues to thrash you till it hurts alongside Zakk Wylde and his Black Label Society — 5:30pm

🧊 Deehan wonders if water will freeze as you pour it out of a bottle later today.

🎉 Steph will be happily broke for a long time because they’re going to see Beyoncé in August.

This newsletter was edited by Fadel Allassan and copy edited by James Farrell.