Jim Wilson/Globe Staff
Paul Haught and his wife were keeping warm and dry in their house Thursday night, watching TV in the living room, while a wild rainstorm raged outside. Then, right in the middle of "American Idol," Nature stepped in.
“We heard a big crack, and then almost, like, an explosion,” said Haught, who went outside to find a 40-foot-tall pine tree had fallen on the Billerica home, smashing a 3-by-5-foot hole in the roof, along with three smaller holes.
When she realized what had happened, his wife, Karen, said, "I cried."
Theirs was just one of many stories from the storm that lashed the state with high winds and heavy rain Thursday night and early Friday. Trees toppled into streets and onto houses and cars. They snapped power lines, cutting power to tens of thousands of people, and they blocked MBTA trolley and commuter lines, causing service disruptions.
Streets and coastal areas flooded. And in Freetown, officials kept a close eye on a dam -- and residents voluntarily evacuated their homes -- because of concern that it had been weakened by the pouring rain.
The good news? By day's end, there were no reports of injuries or fatalities, said Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
The National Weather Service fielded numerous reports of trees and wires down from Thursday afternoon to today. A total of about 85,000 people were out of power this morning because of downed lines, mostly in Essex County and eastern Middlesex County, said Judge. By around 3 p.m., about 63,000 still had no electricity.
The highest sustained wind speeds of over 50 miles per hour were recorded in East Boston, Lawrence, Beverly, and Manchester, N.H. Wind gusts reached 67 miles per hour in Beverly, and blew over 60 in East Boston, Lawrence, Hudson, and Manchester, N.H., according to the weather service
Officials kept a close eye on the coast as the morning high tide neared, with a strong storm surge expected to cause coastal flooding and beach erosion, Judge said.
Powerful waves slammed against houses, their porches, and their back walls along the seawall on Rebecca Road in Scituate at about 9 a.m. this morning. Parts of Lighthouse Road and Rebecca Road were flooded.
"It's fabulous. Every big storm I come," said Karen McDonald, 56, a Scituate resident who was taking pictures with her cellphone near the Old Scituate Lighthouse.
Part of the Green Line's Riverside branch was shut down at about 9 p.m. Thursday because of downed trees and didn't reopen until about 7 a.m. today. The Newburyport commuter line was shut down Thursday night after a mammoth tree landed on a locomotive pulling the last train outbound out of Rowley station, said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo.
Pesaturo said at least two dozen trees came down between the Rowley and Newburyport stations and near Manchester-by-the-Sea, with some as large as 3 feet in diameter. The line is running with 30-to-45-minute delays this morning, and some buses are being dispatched to supplement service, he said.
Three trees fell on the Lowell commuter line in Billerica Thursday night, he said. The trackbed in Billerica was also washed out and trains will be traveling at restricted speeds through that area until crews can make repairs.
In Freetown, state officials scrutinized -- and at the end of the day decided to breach -- the Forge Pond Dam, an ancient structure that was being overburdened by water from the heavy rains.
In New Hampshire, a five-alarm fire whipped by fierce ocean winds tore through a Hampton Beach, N.H., block early this morning, destroying five buildings, including the Surf Hotel. No one was injured.
In Gloucester, authorities received about 75 weather-related calls involving downed power lines and trees and blown siding and roofing, said Acting Fire Captain Daniel Kennedy. Winds blew the roofs off of three inns and hotels on shoreline roads around Cape Ann, he said.
In Beverly, the Fire Department received about 40 storm-related calls, a couple dozen due to fallen trees, said Firefighter Brian Latulippe. The wind thrashed trees into at least three houses and onto one car, said Deputy Fire Chief Peter O’Connor.
“Pine trees were the big culprits,” O’Connor said.
A woman was driving a Toyota RAV4 on Greenwood Avenue at 10:59 p.m. when a tree fell onto the car’s roof, according to the fire department. The woman evacuated the car before rescuers arrived and was transported to a local hospital as a precaution because the roof made some minor contact with her head.
In Billerica, after the tree crashed through the roof, Paul and Karen Haught, a friend, and a neighbor went up onto the roof in the wind and rain to place tarps to stop the water from pouring in. Water was dripping through the house all the way from the attic to the basement, Karen Haught said.
The group placed five tarps, Paul Haught said, but the storm, which had been pouring buckets, had one more trick to play.
"It figured. After we finished putting the tarps up, it stopped," Haught said.
While the sun made an effort to come out this morning in Boston, there won't be much time to bask in it. Over the next 36 hours, the storm will move from southern New York and loop back across southern New England, where periods of light snow are predicted to fall through Saturday night, said Bill Simpson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Taunton.
The good news is that the winds have calmed. “The winds have dropped off and will continue to weaken,” Simpson said.
Higher elevations in the Berkshires can expect up to 6 inches of snowfall, and a light coating of snow may be seen in Boston. Temperatures in the mid-30s will prevent snow from accumulating and creating a messy commute, Simpson said.
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