Thunderstorms leave thousands without power in Western Massachusetts; no tornadoes reported

Severe thunderstorms pelted parts of Western Massachusetts with heavy rain and strong winds Tuesday evening, toppling trees and knocking out power for thousands of residents, but no tornadoes touched down in the region.

Fearing hail and high winds, weather service forecasters had issued several thunderstorm warnings for areas including Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties. They also issued a tornado watch for Berkshire County, which was canceled shortly after 8 p.m.

The storms brought some hail, up to two inches of rain, and 50 mile per hour wind gusts to parts of the Bay State, said Lance Franck, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

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“We had a report in North Adams, three trees down, that was at 5:55 p.m.,” Franck said of the damage in Berkshire County. “We had several reports of quarter-sized hail in the communities of South Egremont [and] Great Barrington. We also had wind damage in Lanesborough with a tree down as well.”

Great Barrington police officer Paul Montgomery said driving rains deluged that town and high winds felled several trees and power lines. He said two accidents were reported during the storm, but there were no injuries.

In nearby Lee, a thunderstorm knocked down dozens of trees and cracked two telephone poles on Route 102. Ryan Lucy, a police officer, said officers shut down about a quarter-mile of Route 102 for approximately an hour while crews cleared the poles.

Thousands were left without power because of downed wires across the state, according to local power companies.

National Grid reported on its website that more than 700 customers were without power in the New Marlborough area shortly before 6 p.m., and service was expected to be restored late Tuesday night. Near Hancock, 569 customers also did not have electricity at about the same time.

“A lot of the damage is definitely tree limbs down from the storms that passed through,” said National Grid spokeswoman Charlotte McCormack.

Western Massachusetts Electric Co. also reported on its website that hundreds of customers were without power Tuesday night. A spokeswoman, Katie Blint, said the most severe outages occurred in Shelburne and Russell.

The company reported 283 people, or 78 percent of customers, did not have power in Russell, and 540 people, or 46 percent of customers, were without power in Shelburne Tuesday night. It was unclear when service would be restored.

The system weakened as it move eastward, though severe thunderstorm warnings were in effect for Worcester and Middlesex counties late Tuesday night.

Franck said rainfall totals tapered off in Eastern Massachusetts. The diminished storms hit the Greater Boston area at about 11 p.m.

The severe storms came one year after a trio of deadly tornadoes tore through Western and Central Massachusetts last June, killing three people, injuring many more, and reducing buildings to splinters from Westfield to Charlton.

Despite the heightened caution early this week, thunderstorms like those that rolled through the state Tuesday are normal for late May, Franck said.

“We see the most severe thunderstorms occurring during May, June, July, August,” he said.

Forecasts for Wednesday call for hazy weather with highs approaching 78 degrees and a lingering chance of rain throughout the day.