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Wind flares up around Mass., and blows a lot down

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

Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

Power lines came down on Andover Street in Danvers.

High winds raked Massachusetts on Thursday, pummeling buildings, tearing down trees and power lines, and 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.

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The blustery day added yet ­another twist to what already had been a fickle week of weather. On Wednesday, temperatures hit the upper 50s, melting the light snow that fell the morning before.

Much of the state saw gusts in excess of 50 miles per hour early Thursday, topping 60 in some areas, including 64-mile-per-hour winds observed in Harwich, Malden, Duxbury, and Brookline between 4 and 7 a.m.

At the Blue Hill Observatory in Milton, weather watchers recorded an 81-mile-per-hour wind gust around 6:23 a.m. That is higher than the 74-mile-per-hour threshold for hurricane-­force winds.

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A high school student was taken to Cape Cod Hospital ­after being hit by a car 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.

The two emergency medical technicians had stopped for a red light about 5:30 a.m. at the intersection of Blue Hill Avenue and Seaver Street in Dorchester when a tree crashed onto the roofs of their ambulance and a parked truck. They escaped as the tree slowly crushed their ­vehicle.

“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.”

The conditions also took a toll on the region’s electric grid. National Grid reported that at 8 a.m., the peak of the outages for the utility, 32,453 customers were without power. An NStar spokesman said that a total of 20,000 of its 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 as officials ­assessed the scene at Charlie’s Repair Shop at 655 North Shore Road (Route 1A). No one was injured, a 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 roof and sending insulation into the wind, Januse said. “It’s quite a mess.”

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

In Boston, winds whipped a billboard onto cars at a ­Roxbury car dealership. Two cars in the lot were reportedly damaged. No one was injured.

Several 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 Thursday morning due to damage related to the weather.

On Friday, the forecast calls for highs in the lower 30s and a low in the upper teens.

Martin Finucane of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Todd Feathers contributed to this report. Lauren Dezenski can be reached at lauren.
dezenski@globe.com
. John R. Ellement can be reached at
ellement@globe.com.
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