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Microburst slams through Wareham

In a parting shot from Hurricane Sandy, a microburst slammed Wareham Tuesday night with heavy thunderstorms and 90-mile-per-hour winds, the National Weather Service confirmed Wednesday.

The weather service dispatched a team Wednesday morning after reports of strong winds and frequent lightning and thunder, said Bill Simpson, meteorologist with the weather service’s Taunton office.

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The microburst pounded the Onset Bay marina and the Swift’s Beach, Pinehurst, and Mayflower Ridge areas of ­Wareham. It carried 60-to-70 mile-per-hour winds and pockets of wind gusts up to 90 miles per hour, according to the Weather Service. The path of the storm was 2 miles wide and 2 miles long, it said.

The microburst was caused by remnants of Sandy, which brought a low-pressure, winter-like system to the area, said Simpson.

Precipitation from the micro­burst that hit Onset and Wareham was Sandy’s easternmost rainband, he said.

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“It was just a very severe thunderstorm with frequent lightning and extremely strong winds,” said Wareham Fire ­Captain Matt Rowley.

Hurricane Sandy had menaced Wareham, which is at the top of Buzzards Bay, Monday night. Officials had called for people to voluntarily evacuate low-lying areas.

A microburst is a strong rush of wind downward, which spreads as it reaches the ground. Microbursts are typically caused by a clash of air masses, affect an area of 1 to 2½ square miles, and last less than five minutes, specialists say. The crew confirmed a micro­burst by using radar infor­mation, analyzing how trees fell, and checking the size of the damaged area.

Straight-line wind gusts snapped trees and telephone poles, some of which hit houses, Rowley said. The weather knocked out power to about 1,000 homes. “It was pretty much held to those areas,” he said. “It was a short duration.”

Firefighters responded to ­areas hit by the microburst, and utility crews worked Wednesday trying to restore power.

Melissa Werthmann
can be reached at melissa.
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