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Wind’s havoc inspires a proposal in Wilmington

Brian Crowley and Maria Pelrine on the stump of the pine tree that fell through their home in Wilmington on Saturday. Crowley proposed to his girlfriend shortly after the tree’s fall.

YOON S. BYUN/GLOBE STAFF

Brian Crowley and Maria Pelrine on the stump of the pine tree that fell through their home in Wilmington on Saturday. Crowley proposed to his girlfriend shortly after the tree’s fall.

The powerful gusts that wreaked havoc across Massachusetts over the weekend delivered a brace of surprises to Wilmington resident Maria Pelrine.

On Saturday afternoon, a 200-year-old pine smashed through the ranch house she shared with her boyfriend. It landed 5 feet away from her in their living room, shattered windows throughout the structure, and rendered their home temporarily uninhabitable.

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A few hours later, her boyfriend, Brian Crowley, presented her with a diamond ring. He had planned to propose tomorrow as her birthday present, but the wind, the tree, and the close call spurred him into action.

“I was a little shaken up yesterday,’’ Pelrine said yesterday, as she and her new fiance removed pictures from half-destroyed walls and picked up debris from around the house on Nichols Street. “But I can’t stop smiling.’’

Yesterday morning, workers spent three hours pulling the tree off the house, exposing a 10-foot-wide valley in the roof, Crowley said.

“It was something out of tornado-land,’’ said Crowley, who was at the gym when the tree fell and received a frantic call from Pelrine urging him to come home.

For now, Pelrine is staying with relatives. Crowley is holed up in their barn with the couple’s four bulldogs.

In Wilmington, that was the most serious damage caused by strong winds, said the town’s deputy fire chief, John Brown.

The gale-force gusts mostly jostled electric systems and triggered fire alarms in several commercial buildings, Brown said.

There were also reports of power outages, he said.

Tree limbs knocked out electricity for thousands of residents across Massachusetts, power companies said.

By early yesterday, all those customers had power restored, said David Graves, a National Grid spokesman.

The outages, which peaked at 5,500 National Grid customers in Massachusetts on Saturday afternoon, were spread across the state, from the Berkshires to communities east, Graves said. Power returned quickly for most residents, he said.

“The damage to the system was not severe,’’ Graves said.

The gusts had slowed to about 20 miles per hour by yesterday morning, said Charlie Foley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

At their strongest, the winds reached 61 miles per hour in three locales: in Brookline, near Medford, and at the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory in Milton, Foley said.

Weather forecasters predicted more tranquil weather for the first part of this week, with temperatures in the 50s today. But Wednesday may bring some snow, Foley said.

“We’ve had such a lack of snow this season, we should be due for it,’’ he said.

The calmer weather yesterday allowed area residents to clean up and assess the damage to their homes and neighborhoods.

Monica Castillo was having breakfast in her Brookline apartment Saturday morning when she heard what sounded like trash cans slamming against each other. When she looked out, she saw that a tree from her yard had fallen onto the porch of a neighboring apartment unit.

Crews came out and took care of the downed tree that afternoon, Castillo said.

The winds also downed a tree along Woburn’s Montvale Avenue. It was removed soon after on Saturday afternoon, said Officer Joseph Mantone, of the city’s police department.

For Crowley and Pelrine, Saturday’s winds have left a more lasting mark.

Insurance agents, contractors, and a mobile-home delivery service are all scheduled to stop by in the coming days, Crowley said.

The couple will also have to pick a wedding date and plan the ceremony.

“We have a lot to do,’’ Pelrine said.

Tree limbs knocked down power to thousands of residents across Massachusetts.

By early today, those customers had power back on, said National Grid spokesman David Graves.

The outages, which peaked at 5,500 customers in Massachusetts yesterday afternoon, were spread across the state, from the Berkshires to communities east, Graves said.

But most residents had power returned quickly, he said.

“The damage to the system was not severe,” Graves said.

The strongest winds were recorded in Brookline, outside of Medford, and at an observatory at Blue Hill in Milton. The winds reached 61 mph at those locations, said Charlie Foley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Monica Castillo was having breakfast in her Brookline apartment yesterday morning when she heard what sounded like trash cans slamming against each other. When she looked out, she saw a tree from her yard had fallen onto the porch of a neighboring apartment unit.

Crews came out and cut the tree down that afternoon, Castillo said.

In Wilmington, the winds wreaked havoc on electric systems, setting off fire alarms in several commercial buildings, said the town’s Deputy Fire Chief John Brown.

There were also reports of power outages and a tree fell on a house in east Wilmington, forcing the residents to move out, Brown said.

Weather forecasters predicted more tranquil weather for the next two days, with temperatures in the 50s tomorrow and mid-40s Tuesday. But Wednesday may bring some snow, Foley said.

“We’ve had such a lack of a snow season, we should be due for it,” he said.

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com
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