BOSTON (AP) — Wind gusts topping 70 mph knocked down power lines across New England and New York, leaving more than 130,000 homes and businesses without power during dangerously cold conditions at the storm’s peak Tuesday.
The wind howled throughout the day across the region, rattling windows, whipping trees and delaying power restoration efforts.
In New Hampshire, the wind blew down a tent at a COVID-19 vaccination site and caused a scary moment when power lines fell on school bus. In Maine, multiple pileups were blamed on whiteout conditions caused by the wind.
The gusts were accompanied by single digit temperatures in parts of New England, creating dire conditions for those without heat.
“We are responding to outages as quickly as we can. However, we cannot send our field crews up to the power lines in buckets when wind gusts are dangerously high,” said Kerri Therriault, director of electric operations for Central Maine Power.
The wind gusted to 71 mph (114 kph) in Bryant Pond and 65 mph (104 kph) in West Bethel in western Maine, and 60 mph (97 kph) in Concord, New Hampshire, officials said, and gusts topped 50 mph (80 kph) in numerous communities across the region.
Higher elevations saw the strongest gusts, and New Hampshire’s Mount Washington recorded a gust of 131 mph (210 kph), according to the National Weather Service.
In New Hampshire, the storm trapped some people in an elevator, delayed a COVID-19 clinic and caused anxious moments in Londonderry when power lines fell on a school bus.
The power lines were not live and no one was hurt, officials said. Another bus took the children to school.
The wind, meanwhile, destroyed the main tent at a vaccination site at Southern New Hampshire University, forcing people with appointments to go to another site for vaccinations, said Jake Leon, a spokesperson for the state Department of Health and Human Services.
In northern Maine, the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department warned of whiteout conditions and drifting snow caused by the strong winds as multiple pileups were reported. One of them, in Presque Isle, involved 16 vehicles but there were not believed to be any life-threatening injuries, WAGM-TV reported.
“I’ve been doing this for 33 years and I haven’t seen it this bad. Hopefully the winds will die down,” said Caribou patrol officer Doug Bell. Several state police cruisers were damaged while responding to crashes, he said.
Earlier, blackouts were affecting 30,000 customers across Massachusetts, including in Boston. High winds toppled scaffolding at the site of a seven-story building under construction late Monday night.
Authorities said no one was injured by the scaffolding collapse.
“Because it was night and it was cold, people were not anywhere near it,” Fire Department District Chief Pat Nichols said. “It’s very fortunate that nobody was hurt.”
Some of the worst of the storm damage was in Maine, where more than 40,000 customers were without power at one point.
But there was damage across the region.
Fallen wires in Connecticut forced police to close more than a dozen roads, including streets in Windsor, Wethersfield, Farmington and Burlington. More than 17,000 customers were without power Tuesday morning in the state.
In New York, more than 26,000 customers were without power Tuesday morning. Ulster County in the Hudson Valley was hardest hit, with more than 11,000 households and businesses affected.
A wind advisory was in effect from Monday night until 4 p.m. Tuesday in New York City, where the winds forced ferry operators to suspend service from at least one Brooklyn pier.
Both the gusts and cold temperatures were expected to be short-lived, with winds calming and temperatures warming by Wednesday, said meteorologist Maura Casey of the National Weather Service in Maine.
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