Henri ‘a limited event’ for region

  • Rainfall from Tropical Storm Henri swells the Deerfield River as it pours over the dam at Gardner Falls in Buckland on Monday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Rainfall from Tropical Storm Henri swells the Deerfield River in Shelburne Falls as it pours over the dam and glacial potholes on Monday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/23/2021 5:55:55 PM

Despite the heavy rain and strong winds that were anticipated across the state on Sunday, Tropical Storm Henri failed to meet the expectations of local police, fire and public works officials who braced for its arrival to the county Sunday afternoon.

“We were expecting to have multiple calls, but we didn’t have anything,” said Conway Fire Chief Bob Baker. “I don’t think (the storm) met anyone’s expectations.”

Leading into the weekend, police, fire and public works departments across Franklin County began checking equipment, monitoring flood-prone areas and bringing in extra manpower in anticipation of heavy rain forecasted for Sunday.

But for many departments, Sunday proved to be a “quiet night” with few, if any, storm-related calls.

In Conway, with the exception of an uprooted tree that took down a utility pole on Monday morning, the Conway Fire Department had no storm-related calls to respond to, Baker said.

“It was a quiet night for us,” he said.

Torry Gaucher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the storm made landfall in the Westerly, R.I. area.

“From there, it lost a lot of strength … maybe a little quicker than we were anticipating,” Gaucher said. “That meant winds really started to decrease, and (Franklin County) was more or less left off with rain, as you were on the western side of the storm. Typically, in a tropical system, the western side has the most prolific rain, and on the east side is the prolific wind.”

In this region of Massachusetts, he said the National Weather Service did not have any warnings or watches for a tropical storm.

“We weren’t anticipating any strong winds to affect that area,” Gaucher said. “That said, we were anticipating heavy rainfall to move into your area.”

On the western side of Franklin County, East Hawley saw a reported 2.36 inches of rain between Sunday at 7 a.m. and Monday at 7 a.m, according to Gaucher. Rowe saw about 1.5 inches.

“We lucked out with the storm,” Hawley Fire Chief Greg Cox said on Monday morning. “We got about 2.5 inches of rain, and we had limited wind damage.”

He said there were a few cases of trees knocking down power lines.

“People were without power for a time until National Grid got those fixed, but they worked to fix it expeditiously,” Cox said. “So it was just a limited event.”

Despite a less eventful storm than expected, Cox said his firefighters staffed the town’s emergency operations center for about eight hours on Sunday.

“But as I said, there was limited stuff we had to do,” he said.

In Greenfield, a reported 0.63 inches of rainfall fell between Sunday and Monday morning, according to Gaucher.

“It rained on and off pretty good a couple of times (Sunday),” said Greenfield Public Works Director Marlo Warner II. “But I don’t believe we saw the amount of rain we’ve seen in storms (in the) past.”

With showers expected throughout the day on Monday, the National Weather Service continued to characterize the area as a “flood threat.”

“There are some areas of your region where the ground is saturated, so it’s not going to take much to flood,” Gaucher said.

Warner, who said there was “nothing to report” following Sunday’s rain, noted Greenfield still has certain preparations in place, namely monitoring flood-prone streets and keeping road closure signs nearby in the event of flooding.

“The water table obviously is high. The ground is saturated,” Warner said. “We also keep an eye on what happens north of us — obviously it comes down the river. It’s not necessarily what falls on Greenfield, but north of Greenfield.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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