High winds rip up roofs, topple trees; one weather-related injury reported on Cape Cod

Danvers, MA., 01/31.13, Andover STreet had downed power lines, forcing business to close due to the storm. Section: Metro Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff
Power lines came down on Andover Street in Danvers.Credit: Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

High winds raked the Bay State this morning, pummeling buildings and tearing down trees and power lines, leaving thousands without power. One person was seriously injured in a weather-related accident on Cape Cod, while in a close call two EMTs escaped injury when powerful gusts toppled a tree onto their ambulance in Boston.

A high school student was transported to Cape Cod Hospital after being hit by a car driven by an elderly man at roughly 7 a.m. as she crossed the street to a bus stop in Barnstable. Fire officials said the incident was weather-related and conditions at the time were dark, windy, and rainy.

Two EMTs were stopped for a red light at about 5:30 a.m. at the intersection of Blue Hill Avenue and Seaver Street in Dorchester when a tree came crashing onto the roofs of their ambulance and a parked truck. The EMTs escaped as the tree slowly crushed their vehicle.

Advertisement—Continue Reading Below

“A big piece of the tree lodged through the roof in the rear of the ambulance,” said Stephen McCall, president of Brockton-based McCall Ambulance Service. “If somebody was in there, they definitely would have been hit.”

Much of the state saw wind gusts in excess of 50 miles per hour, with some areas topping 60, including 64-mile-per-hour winds observed in Harwich, Malden, Duxbury, and Brookline between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. At the Blue Hill Observatory in Milton, weather watchers recorded an 82-mile-per-hour wind gust around 6:23 a.m. That’s higher than the 74-mile-per-hour threshold for hurricane-force winds.

National Grid reported that at 8 a.m., the peak of their power outages, 32,453 customers were without power. An NStar spokesman said that a total of 20,000 of their customers and 6,700 customers of Western Massachusetts Electric Co., a sister company, had lost power over the course of the day.

In Revere, the winds wrenched at a 70-year-old auto body shop, causing it to partially collapse. State Police shut down the street this morning as officials assessed the scene at Charlie’s Repair Shop at 655 North Shore Road (Route 1A). No one was injured, a Revere fire official said.

Gusts also tore up the roof of a Raynham elementary school cafeteria, said Fire Chief James T. Januse.

The wind “just rolled the top” of the rubber roof off the building at 6:45 a.m., damaging most of the structure’s roof and sending insulation into the wind, Januse said. “It’s quite a mess,” he said.

Water damaged the Lillie B. Merrill Elementary School’s cafeteria’s interior, including the light fixtures The school was not yet open, so no one was in the lunchroom at the time, Januse said.

Winds in Fall River ripped a off of a chunk of another school’s roof and carried it 45 feet into a neighboring yard, fire officials said. The 40-foot-by-40-foot roof portion took down power lines as it flew north just after 6:30 a.m., said Fall River Fire Department Lieutenant William Powers.

School was not in session, and no injuries were reported at the Resiliency Preparatory School, a Fall River alternative public high school. Powers estimated damage to the building to be at least $100,000.

Twenty minutes later and a half-mile away, a large tree fell onto a Victorian house on Highland Avenue in Fall River. The tree’s trunk, roughly 10 feet in diameter, split in half, Powers said.

In Boston, winds also caused a billboard to fall onto cars at a Roxbury car dealership, said a Boston Fire Department official. Two cars in the lot were reportedly damaged. No one was injured.

Multiple public safety agencies reported road detours due to downed trees and power lines. The traffic snags included the Jamaicaway in Boston, Greenough and North Beacon streets in Watertown, and Andover Street in Danvers.

In Wellesley, the eastbound lanes of Route 16 were closed for about 90 minutes this morning due to weather-related damage, but one lane was reopened around 8 a.m.

Calmer weather conditions are expected to dominate for the rest of the day, the weather service said. Temperatures are set to drop back into the 30s by this evening.

Share