Noreaster lashes region with rain and strong winds, leaving some communities without power
A severe nor'easter battered Massachusetts, sending heavy rain and wind gusts of up to 90 miles per hour, killing trees and wires, and putting out power for nearly 500,000 customers, the hardest hit being in the southeastern region. Roads and schools were closed, and some homeowners had rude awakenings, finding enormous tree trunks on their properties.
State officials reported that more than 497,000 people were without power late Wednesday morning. As of 2 p.m., the total had fallen to 472,481.
Frank Hardy, 72, of Essex, woke to find a huge tree on his lawn in front of his house at 50 John Wise Ave. He was standing outside in the whipping wind, wielding a saw and cutting tree branches that were blocking his driveway.
Its been there since Ive been here, he said of the tree.
He pointed to a willow tree nearby and said he was surprised that it was still standing. At least its only one tree, he added.
Rhode Island also saw significant power outages and school closures. By late morning Wednesday, about 80,000 National Grid customers in Rhode Island were without power.
A wind gust of 94 miles per hour was recorded in Edgartown at 4:31 a.m., according to the National Weather Service, one of several instances where gusts reached speeds of over 80 miles/hour on Cape Cod and the South Shore.
The storm whipped up the East Coast Tuesday and was expected to sweep off the coast on Wednesday before heading east. High winds and rain intensified overnight into Wednesday as the storm bombed out or underwent boombogenesis, a term for reversing if pressure drops dramatically over 24 hours that results in 'a storm rapidly strengthening'. According to the weather service, the wind was forecast to ease slowly Wednesday afternoon.
The worst of the winds is over & they will continue to decrease, but unfortunately this will be a slow process across the hard hit areas of southeast MA, the agency tweeted late Wednesday morning.
Forecasters predicted that the storm will also present another risk, possibly causing coastal flooding during the high tide Wednesday afternoon. They warned that numerous road closures may be required, low-lying structures will be flooded, and shoreline erosion will occur.
Wednesday's outages were brief, but they focused most heavily on the coast, mostly south of Boston.
At 12:17 p.m. According to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, 100 percent of customers were without power in a number of towns, including Hanson, Hanover, Scituate, Hamilton, Essex, Hingham, Cohasset, Holbrook, Pembroke, Chilmark, and Halifax.
Edgartown at 94 percent, Aquinnah at 99 percent and Falmouth at 95 percent respectively, as well as Plymouth at 1992 percent, Plympton at 97%, East Bridgewater at94%, Lakeville at99 percent., Bourne at92 percent; Stoughton at97 percent und Marshfield at96 percent each.
In Plymouth, crews removed hundreds of fallen tree limbs and branches from streets and driveways in brisk winds and torrential rain. One large tree branch blocked an access road to Plimoth Patuxet Museums; another fell across the driveway to the school administration building; and a third large woodtop was sheared off by wind near Plymouth Rock, landing just feet away from soaring William Bradford statue, the governor of Plymouth Colony.
Police closed a portion of Main Street in the heart of downtown Plymouth to allow for the removal of 'a massive fallen tree' at the corner of North Street; emergency vehicles diverted traffic off oceanfront Warren Avenue. In front of Plymouth Yacht Club, a shed was toppled sideways, and throughout the historic district, white clapboard houses were covered in mud, blackened leaves,, along with other debris blown sideway by the wind.
High winds caused such widespread damage that the town fire department lost power and its generator failed in Middleborough, which is surrounded by mature trees. Town officials said power was out for nearly seven hours at the departments main firehouse, according to a statement. Calls were routed to the town police until power was restored around 10 a.m.
According to the press release, police there have been called for storm-related assistance more than 200 times, and 28 roads were closed Wednesday because of fallen trees and power lines, the release said.
Governor Charlie Baker said late Wednesday morning via Twitter that state officials were working with the utilities to get power restored. Our administration is working with utilities to speed up recovery times, but crews are still assessing the extent of damage, Baker tweeted. If you are in an affected community, please check in on neighbors, stay away from downed power lines, and stay off the roads.
National Grid said over 2,400 workers were dispatched throughout the region to assist with the power outages.
Were seeing significant impact to our system as a result of downed trees, limbs, poles and wires; weve also suffered damage to some transmission lines feeding substations which results in widespread community outages, said Michael McCallan, National Grids vice president of New England electric operations.
Today, as line and forest workers assess and repair power systems in affected communities, we remain focused on public safety. We will be focusing on repairs that will provide the greatest number of customers with the most service, and we will of course work until every customer has their electricity restored.
Miloud Allouane, an assistant manager in Essex, was turning customers away Wednesday morning at the normally busy Gulf gas station on Essex Street owing to the power failure.
This happens almost every year, he said. When the wind blows like this, a lot of rain, we lose power, he added. He said it hurts him to have to turn away customers.
The storm also hit Rhode Island, with power outages in Barrington, Bristol, Warren, Narragansett, Little Compton, Exeter, and North Kingstown. As of 11:40 a.m., about 80,000 National Grid customers were without power. Rhode Island is covered by the National Grid, which serves the vast majority of the state. As many as 92,000 people were without power earlier Wednesday.
The power outage affected the school day for thousands of children, including in Boston, where two schools were closed.
TechBoston Academy and BTU K-8 Pilot School both lost power and dismissed students early, according to a Boston Public Schools spokesman in an e-mail about 10:30 p.m.
For TechBoston, their 10 a.m. dismissal today is an hour earlier than their usual 11 o. m resumption on Wednesdays, Andrews wrote. The Carter School briefly lost power, but the power has been restored. BPS has been in contact with families about the early dismissals and buses are arriving to take students who regularly ride the bus home.
Wednesday, classes at Marshfield, Middleborough Carver, Cohasset, Duxbury, Plymouth, the Blue Hills Regional High School, and schools on the Cape in Truro, Dennis, Chatham, & Harwich all slowed. Rockport and the Manchester Essex Regional School District on the North Shore were also closed. After initially announcing delays, Milton and Stoughton schools also closed on Wednesday.
Several schools in Providence were closed as well.
As a result of dwindling power, the following PPSD elementary schools are closed today: Fortes-Lima, Leviton, Pleasant View, Webster & West, Providence Public Schools tweeted. There will not be distance learning for those schools, says the Associated Press.
The roadway was blocked at the intersection of Pond and Spring streets, and South Main Street was restricted by a tree that had fallen onto power lines.
The town has suffered significant damage to trees and electrical infrastructure overnight, Cohasset police Chief William Quigley said in a message to residents. Numerous roads and ways are completely blocked. National Grid is in town and inspecting damage, but the storm is still active and putting off their progress. The National grid is out in the mountains and checking damage but it is dragging them down.
The press box had blown off the stands at Alumni Field, where athletic teams play, and was a total loss, while several boats had run errands in Cohasset Harbor and historic trees were toppled on the town common.
The situation in Cohasset had become so severe that two saw crews from the state Department of Correction were dispatched there to assist with debris clearing, according to Christopher Besse, a MEMA spokesman.
MEMA has also received similar debris clearance resource requests from several other communities and are working with them to meet those needs through a variety of sources, Besse stated in an email.
But some in the South Shore community managed to make the most of it.
John and Joan Kenny, a local couple who live in the city, shared their storm day ritual with hollywood reporter: They grab scratch tickets and soda and go along the water in their red pickup truck.
John yelled as the wind blew in front of Cohasset Harbor. Its really interesting to look at the ocean, he said.
On the misty horizon, huge waves swarmed over the lighthouse. Boats swerved on top of the choppy water.
Michael Askjaer, of Cohasset, said he was pleased that a large sailboat had washed up on the harbors edge. Askjar said the boat was safe because it was removed.
Askjaer hadnt been able to start his laptop since 11 p.m. He stated on Tuesday that he will speak with reporters shortly thereafter. His family will be spending the day playing Monopoly and catching up on the sleep they missed due to the strong winds.
The wind kept us up all night long... It was the strongest wind weve ever had," he said. I wouldnt be surprised if it reached 80 miles per hour. It was a very intense experience.
Paul Appleton, of Cohasset, stood on his 21-foot Wellcraft that had washed up on the shore and shivered, his hands stuffed in the pockets of his raincoat, waiting for friends to arrive with anchors.
Appleton said it was a beautiful weekend and he figured I'd get fewer days out before I took it out. It was one day too late... never again.
In Duxbury, police and fire responded to several trees down and a high volume of emergency calls in the prior 12 hours. Town fire officials tweeted at 8 p.m. that they had responded on more than 90 calls within the preceding 12 minutes.
Trees on the tracks and other weather-related problems caused delays on both Red and Green lines during the morning commute, but they were eventually resolved. However, delays on several commuter rail lines occurred, and Keolis Commuter Services stated in a tweet that storm damage is extensive even as the storm faded.
In other towns throughout the state, trees, power lines, and road closures were reported in the early morning.
People should avoid being outside in forested areas and around trees and branches, the weather service stated. If you can, stay in the lower levels of your home during the windstorm and avoid windows. Use caution if you must drive.
MassDOT, on the other hand, was reporting a number of issues on state roads Wednesday morning.
A downed utility pole in Milton, which snarled northbound traffic on the Southeast Expressway for commuters using Exit 11, a lane closure on Route 24 south in Berkley due to twigs in, downd power lines on route 203 in Boston, and trimmed tree and power wires on Road 28 in Barnstable, who had shut traffic in both directions early Wednesday. Due to downed trees and utility lines, a portion of Route 133 in Gloucester was also closed, according to MassDOT.
The weather service also reported problems at a small airport in New Bedford.
At 6:21 a.m., the agency noted what it called social media accounts of a parked plane at New Bedford Regional Airport picked up by strong winds, landing in the middle of the road up against bushes.
Ferry service was also affected.
The Steamship Authority canceled 10 ferry trips between Woods Hole and Vineyard Haven on Tuesday due to weather conditions, the authority said on its website, and it warned that further service disruptions were possible Wednesday.
Due to the storm, ferry service to Salem from Boston was canceled Tuesday and Wednesday. Sale, which has received dozens of Halloween visitors this week, said that because of the cancellation of ferry services. The MBTA also announced it had canceled ferry services from Charlestown and Hingham on both days.
Courthouses in the region were closed in several counties, including Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket, Norfolk, and Plymouth, with the storm concentrating its fury on the South Shore and Cape Cod, according to officials.
Whrend the winds and the impact of the storms garnered the most attention, the weather service reported Wednesday afternoon that some communities, particularly along the north and south coasts, had experienced heavy rainfall.
According to the Weather Service, Salem, Randolph, New Bedford, and Chilmark each received more than 3 inches of rain and more then 30 communities recorded more that 2 inches. In Burrillville and Hope Valley, the weather service reported that the most rainfall in Rhode Island was 2 inches.
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