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'Bomb cyclone' leaves more than 500K power outages in New England

CNN logo CNN 10/27/2021 By Jason Hanna and Melissa Alonso, CNN
Trees were down Wednesday morning in Malden, Massachusetts, north of Boston. © Malden Police Department Trees were down Wednesday morning in Malden, Massachusetts, north of Boston.

Hundreds of thousands of New Englanders were dealing with power outages and debris cleanup Wednesday after a nor'easter strengthened into a "bomb cyclone" and tore through the region, downing trees and power lines with winds that sometimes reached hurricane strength.

The storm, which flooded parts of the Northeast on Tuesday, picked up strength as the day progressed and battered coastal areas with extreme winds into Wednesday morning.

At the outages' peak Wednesday morning, more than 600,000 homes and businesses were without power in New England, with the majority being in Massachusetts, according to PowerOutage.us.

As of about 5 p.m. ET that number had improved to about 514,000, with almost 459,000 outages in Massachusetts. Almost all the other power disruptions were in Rhode Island.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said at a news conference that utility workers are doing their best to restore power.

"National Grid and Eversource and the other utilities are already working to restore power where they can, but in some cases, they do need to wait until the winds come down before it's really going to be safe to get up into a bucket truck," the governor said.

Baker emphasized that residents needed to treat any downed wire as a live wire and report it.

Storm leaving, winds should die down

With the storm heading out to sea, most of New England will begin to see winds die down, except for those areas along the coast where winds may remain gusty through the evening.

Numerous trees were downed across the Boston area. In Milton, just south of Boston, a tree fell onto Colleen McCarthy's home, coming to rest on the roof above a bedroom where a 3-year-old was sleeping, CNN affiliate WBZ reported. No one was hurt.

"I've never been in an earthquake, but that was my first reaction. Our whole house shook. We heard a crack. It really did. It felt like an earthquake," McCarthy told WBZ.

Wind also caused damage along parts of Massachusetts' South Shore. In the coastal town of Cohasset, several boats were blown aground, trees were uprooted and a press box was blown off the stands at a high school athletic field, leaving it smashed and splintered, police said.

A wave crashes Tuesday into the retaining wall of a home in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. © Peter Pereira/The Standard-Times/AP A wave crashes Tuesday into the retaining wall of a home in Fairhaven, Massachusetts.

Wind gusts of 74 mph or stronger were recorded Wednesday morning in some parts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island -- enough for the National Weather Service to urge coastal residents to stay away from windows. Gusts of 94 mph were clocked in Edgartown, Massachusetts.

The severe gusts moved the weather service to advise people to not drive in southeastern Massachusetts.

A "bomb cyclone" is a rapidly strengthening storm that increases at least 24 millibars (a unit of pressure) in 24 hours -- and typically the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.

A large tree fell Wednesday onto a pickup in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. © Peter Pereira/AP A large tree fell Wednesday onto a pickup in Fairhaven, Massachusetts.

The storm, which delivered about 2 to 8 inches of rain in short order over parts of several states from Tuesday into Wednesday, led the governors of New Jersey and New York to declare states of emergency in advance, just weeks after Hurricane Ida left severe flooding there in early September.

River flooding still was underway Wednesday from New York to Virginia, the weather service's Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center said.

'One of the worst I've seen'

Joe Kidston was one of the Massachusetts residents without power Wednesday morning. The electricity went out at his home in Hingham as howling wind pushed down trees around 3 a.m., he said.

"It was one of the worst I've seen," Kidston said of the storm.

Kidston posted video of the storm and its aftermath on Twitter, showing strong and noisy winds during the night and downed tree limbs in the morning.

The debris blocked the road leading to his home.

"We live on a dead end street," he said on Twitter, sharing photos of the trees. "Looks like we're stuck here for a while."

Plymouth County, where Hingham is located, had wind gusts ranging from 40 mph to 85 mph.

Several boats were aground in Cohasset, Massachusetts, on Wednesday. © Cohasett (Massachusetts) Police Department Several boats were aground in Cohasset, Massachusetts, on Wednesday.
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