Localized storm hits northern central county
Takes down trees, cuts power
Submitted photo/Gouch Mandeson
Tree uprooted on Brookside Avenue in Greenfield after Saturday afternoon storm on Aug. 31, 2013.
Chris Curtis Recorder
Blue Sky of Colrain helps clean up Camp Kee-wanee in Greenfield Sunday evening. Saturday's storm felled dozens of trees on the property.
Rain, wind and lightning lashed trees and utility poles beginning Saturday afternoon in the Greenfield, Leyden and Colrain areas, notably leaving nearly all of Leyden without power for a time and doing extensive damage in the woods around Camp Kee-wanee.
In Leyden, the storm left 359 of 361 Western Massachusetts Electric Co. customers without power into the evening, but Fire Chief Lester Cote was more struck by the damage in Greenfield.
“We had a couple of trees come down, but it was nothing like Camp Kee-wanee,” Cote said. Leyden’s power outage was a result of damage in Greenfield, Cote said, and lasted a couple of hours.
At Camp Kee-wanee, on Health Camp Road in Greenfield by the Leyden line, volunteers were still cleaning up at 6 p.m. the next day, and expected a couple more days’ work.
Cote was one of a group at the camp Saturday evening for an Eagle Scout ceremony for Greenfield’s Troop 16, he said, when what he believes was a micro-burst came through.
“We all ended up, we got in the middle of the room and stayed there until it was over,” Cote said, from around 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. he estimated. “We had to wait then kick some trees and branches out of the way all the way up until we got to Leyden.”
When the storm abated and trees stopped falling, the group pushed through the downed limbs on the roads and left. No one was hurt, he said, sheltering in the meeting room of the office building by the central pavilion.
Sunday evening the camp was in disarray, with tractors and chain saws at work clearing the broken trees, but the structures were largely intact.
About 100 yards into the woods, Chris “Longhair” Boulton and Dave “Trashy” Karas of Marlborough and Victor Cooper and son Austin Cooper of Mount Vernon cut the fallen trees and 10-foot stumps left in a new clearing in the woods.
All three are employees of Wormtown Trading Co., the company behind the annual Strange Creek Campout music festival at the camp, and all three said they were volunteering.
“We have a lot of fun here, so we’re trying to give back a little bit,” Boulton said.
“I’ve had entirely too much fun on this property,” Karas said. “I can come and clean up for free.”
Nearer the buildings, Blue Sky, owner of Colrain Tree Service, was also volunteering his time. Dragging and carrying logs and whole trees into the open with a tractor, he pointed to trees in the localized patch in the woods shorn off at roughly the same height, a sign of a micro-burst.
Karas, Boulton and Cooper weren’t sure, pointing to the way most of the trees had fallen in the same direction rather than a spiral, but weren’t positive.
A long time volunteer at the camp, Blue Sky saw a silver lining; the camp sees thousands of kids each summer, he said, but was relatively empty Saturday.
“It’s fortunate that it happened when it did,” he said. “These woods are like a gypsy camp.”
The afternoon storm was little more than a little rain in much of the county. While its neighbors to the northwest dealt with the storm and its aftermath, Turners Falls Fire Department reported not a single call.
The storm blew into Greenfield around 4:30 p.m., taking down tree limbs on Leyden, Barton and Country Club roads and Barton Heights, brought down trees on Smead Hill and power lines on Leyden and Plain roads, according to Greenfield Fire Capt. John Whitney.
Emergency workers closed portions of these roads during the storm, and Sunday evening roads in the northern part of town were lined with broken branches, leaves and new log piles.
Lightning struck a house on Country Club Road, but produced no smoke or fire, Whitney said.
In addition to the Leyden outages, 126 of 925 WMECO customers in Colrain were without power Saturday evening. By noon Sunday, WMECO’s outage map showed power restored to all but two customers each in Colrain and Greenfield.
John O’Toole, a WMECO spokesman, said about 1,100 lost power in the utility’s coverage area but most had been restored by morning.
You can reach Chris Curtis at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257