Forecasters say microburst slammed East Arlington

A Freeman Street homeowner watched as workers cleared the tree from her house.
A Freeman Street homeowner watched as workers cleared the tree from her house.
Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff

Hundreds of trees and branches are down. Dozens of homes are still without power. At least eight streets remain closed.

That’s the scene in East Arlington today, as officials try to pick up the pieces after high winds and rain thrashed the area Wednesday afternoon, police said.

Police Chief Frederick Ryan said that despite all of the damage, there are no injuries to report.

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Ryan said he hopes that since the damage was localized, and not as extreme across the state, police can draw on state and neighboring community resources to expedite the cleanup.

“We’ve summoned in a number of subcontractors, as well as state tree crews to help out,” he said.

The National Weather Service confirmed that a microburst shook East Arlington at 6 p.m. Wednesday, casting 100 trees to the ground and crumbling a brick garage on Harlow Street.

A microburst is a strong rush of wind downward, which spreads out as it reaches the ground, said meteorologist Rebecca Gould.

“It’s like throwing a rock in a pond,” she said. Once the rock touches the pond, water ripples outward. When a microburst touches the ground, strong gusts of winds radiate outward, drastically changing wind direction and speed. Microbursts typically affect an area of one to two and a half square miles and last less than five minutes, she said.

The weather service estimated the microburst winds at 70 to 80 miles per hour and reported that the path length was two miles long.

The city of Lynn was also hit hard by the storm Wednesday afternoon.

Acting Department of Works Commissioner Manny Alcantara said his office received at least two dozen calls about snapped trees in Lynn.

He said there were three or four “humongous” trees that were completely uprooted and destroyed the sidewalks. Alacantara said most of the damage occurred on Graves and Rowell avenues, and that the largest tree took almost four hours to clear from the street.

“All together we had about 24 complaints of power outages,” he said. “Most of it is back.”

Several other Massachusetts communities were rattled by the storm.

The service fielded reports from one observer of a funnel cloud over Peabody and Essex just before 2 p.m. Wednesday, and widespread hail as large as two inches in diameter. Flooding was also a problem around 2 p.m. for Lynn, Essex, Malden, and Middlesex.