Downed trees, power outages result from fast-moving storm

  • Wednesday’s storm blew a tree onto this pickup truck on Cypress Street in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Greenfield’s Silver Street was closed from the Chapman Street intersection to the intersection of Country Club Road and Vernon Street on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Workers remove a tree that Wednesday’s storm blew onto a pickup truck on Cypress Street in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Wednesday’s storm blew down this tree on Crocker Avenue in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • High winds toppled this tree over power lines in Athol. STAFF PHOTO/JACKI CARON

  • High winds Wednesday morning toppled this tree onto utility lines along Winchendon Road in Royalston. STAFF PHOTO/GREG VINE

  • Wednesday’s storm blew over this tree on Cypress Street in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Wednesday’s storm toppled this tree on Pleasant Street in South Deerfield. Contributed photo/Gary Bunker

Staff Writer
Published: 10/8/2020 3:16:58 PM

Western Massachusetts was left picking up the pieces Thursday after a storm knocked over at least 80 trees and branches and caused widespread power outages the day prior.

According to Eversource’s outage map, 12,148 out of the region’s 219,404 customers, or 5.54 percent, were without power as of 11:30 a.m. These figures included all of Leyden’s customers, 89 percent of Conway’s and nearly 6 percent of those in Greenfield.

Bill Leathem, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Boston office, explained the main reason the storm was so powerful was that a strong cold front pushed through the region, developing a line of showers and thunderstorms that brought the heavy winds. He said the calamity passed through so rapidly because that line of thunderstorms moved at 60 to 80 mph. Widespread damage was reported from central New York through southern New England.

Glenn Field, National Weather Service’s warning coordination meteorologist, noted the storm was not a microburst, which is defined as being not more than 2½ miles in diameter.

At roughly 11:40 a.m., Eversource spokesperson Reid Lamberty said hundreds of field crews and tree crews had been “working nonstop since it was safe to do so” to clear roads and restore power.

“We are continuing to work as we speak,” he said.

Lamberty also said mutual aid in the form of line crews and contractors were en route from New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Canada. He said it is expected that all customers will have power restored by noon on Saturday, with the vast majority getting it back before then.

He said the storm resulted in 30 blocked roads, 41 broken utility poles and 6 miles of downed wires. Fallen trees and tree limbs are the biggest culprit behind the downed wires and poles.

“(The storm) left as quickly as it came,” Lamberty said. “It was a very, very fast-moving, powerful and damaging storm.”

Eversource’s outage map for Western Massachusetts can be found at bit.ly/36JDKo1.

Bernardston Fire Chief Peter Shedd said his department responded to a report of a tree that fell on the roof of a house at 45 Turners Falls Road. The tree caused damage to the roof and some structural damage inside the home, but the house did not lose power, Shedd said, and the homeowners were still able to stay there. Shedd said there was also a report of a tree hitting a home on Dewey Street.

In total, Shedd estimated the Bernardston Fire Department received more than 30 calls Wednesday evening as a result of the storm. He said there was “good teamwork” between the Bernardston Police, Fire and Highway departments throughout the night, as well as from mutual aid from Guilford and Brattleboro Vt., and Hinsdale, N.H. As of Thursday morning, main roads were clear, but some back roads were still blocked.

Athol Police Lt. Ron Cote said at around noon that National Grid and the Athol Highway Department had been working around the clock to clear roads.

“It’s a slow go. We have quite a few streets that have been blocked by poles and stuff,” he said, adding that the areas of White Pond Road and New Sherborn Road were hit particularly hard. “It was pretty strong.”

Cote also said there was an unconfirmed report a horse killed by a fallen tree.

In Northfield, emergency personnel rescued a 60-year-old New Hampshire man trapped in a vehicle after trees and three-phase power lines came down around him, blocking his way in both directions, according to Northfield Fire Chief Floyd “Skip” Dunnell III. The man was on Route 10, in the vicinity of the Northfield Boat Ramp.

“He was traveling south on Route 10 when the storm hit,” Dunnell said. “It brought all three primary wires down. … They were energized and burning on the ground in close proximity to the car. One of the primaries was wedged in his trunk lid.”

First responders used a loudspeaker to order the man to stay in the vehicle and not to touch anything until the power company and other emergency personnel arrived.

With Routes 10 and 63 closed, firefighters and members of the power company were able to cut the tree away from the Dodge Magnum, “and (the driver) went on his way,” according to Dunnell.

“It was definitely a life-threatening situation,” he said.

The Deerfield Fire Department responded to a report of a gas leak Wednesday evening at Pan Am Railway in east Deerfield — though whether the leak was a result of storm damage is under investigation, according to Cynthia Scarano, a spokesperson for the company.

“We had some roof damage on one of the buildings and some trees down,” she said. “Electricity poles went down, so we’ve got some work ahead of us.”

Scarano said there were no injuries, and the yard was evacuated for “precautionary reasons.”

Dave Procopio, director of media communications for Massachusetts State Police, said affected highways included the Interstate 91 southbound lanes in Greenfield, which were blocked by a downed tree.

At least one death was reported, in Great Barrington. Procopio explained State Police detectives and crime scene personnel responded to the Wyantenuck Country Club for a man fatally struck by a falling tree. An investigation determined a 71-year-old man had been golfing when harsh weather struck. At approximately 5:30 p.m., the man was found on the ground with severe injuries.

Great Barrington Police responded and attempted resuscitation until Southern Berkshire EMS arrived and determined the man was dead.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262. Reporter Mary Byrne contributed to this report.




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