In Saugus, winds topped 70 miles per hour as storm tore through town
The storm containing the remnants of Hurricane Florence battered Massachusetts on Tuesday, bringing a deluge of rainfall that flooded parts of the state and caused road closures and power outages.
In Saugus, the storm tore a mile-long path of destruction. At one point, winds topped 70 miles per hour in that North Shore community, but forecasters who were looking into whether a tornado touched down ultimately determined that no twister took place, said Alan Dunham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Norton office.
By late Tuesday afternoon, the brunt of the rain was done in the region, with Boston missing the worst of the storm, according to Bryce Williams, another meteorologist with the weather service.
He said the city saw about an inch of rain from the storm, a far cry from the 4 to 6 inches that fell in parts of northern Worcester County on Tuesday.
There was a chance of scattered showers for Greater Boston overnight, he said.
Saugus Town Manager Scott Crabtree said “most of the town” lost power during the storm. At one point, all schools in town with the exception of Oaklandvale Elementary School were without power, he said. As of 5:15 p.m., only three utility customers were without power in town, according to the state.
Public works crews were working to remove trees or tree limbs felled by the storm from about 20 to 25 locations throughout the town, he said.
There was some flooding on Route 1, as well as flooding in various neighborhoods throughout Saugus, Crabtree said.
“The sky opened up,” he said.
On Ballard Street shortly before 10 a.m., David Webster was blasting Huey Lewis on his stereo system while he vacuumed his home, when he heard a howl outside his porch door.
“It was like a bat out of hell,” the 70-year-old Saugus resident said. “I swear the rain was almost going sideways.”
Webster said the rainfall was heavy and the wind bowed the tree in his front yard. Just as quickly as it came, the storm stopped about 20 minutes later.
After the storm passed, Webster saw smoke rising across the street from a fallen electric line flailing in the street. He then called the town officials to alert them.
In the afternoon, crews used cherry picker trucks to cut down snapped branches in the area.
Meanwhile, Webster sat on his porch eating a cherry popsicle.
“It was such a freak thing,” he said. “And to think, I almost went fishing today.”
Anna Moscone said she should have listened to her mother. Just before the storm hit, her mother called from New Hampshire and said to get into the basement.
“She saw that there was a tornado coming our way on television and was freaking out,” Moscone, 46, said. “All I said was ‘meh’ and hung up.”
Minutes later, around 10:30 a.m., the lights started flickering in her second-floor apartment in Saugus and then she looked out the window and saw a tree tipping over.
“I didn’t have any time to think. I just ran,” she said.
As she rounded the house to the basement, she looked back and saw all the trees along the street on Riverside Park tipping over.
“I was just thinking, ‘Is this real life?’ ” Moscone said.
For 15 minutes, she sat in the basement until the rain stopped. Once she came out, she saw a massive tree landed on her son’s Corvette in their driveway.
“He wasn’t too mad. He was more upset that we lost all our privacy now that the tree fell,” Moscone said. “The summers are going to be so hot without the shade.”
The National Weather Service reported that 2 to 4 inches of rain had already fallen across Northern Massachusetts. Even higher amounts were observed in Baldwinville (6.62 inches), Townsend (5.33 inches), Ashburnham (4.76 inches), Fitchburg (4.11), and Lunenburg (4.02 inches).
Heavy rainfall and flash flooding was a concern across Southern New England throughout the afternoon, and a flash flood watch will remain in effect until 2 a.m. Wednesday for most of Massachusetts, the weather service said.
The heavy rain imperiled motorists on several roads north of Boston.
At 11:30 a.m., the Massachusetts State Police reported flooding and stranded vehicles in the area of Mystic Avenue, McGrath Highway, Woodland Road, and Mystic Valley Parkway in Somerville and Medford. State Police also tweeted about flooding on Route 16 at Railroad Avenue in Revere; on the Lynnway at Commercial Street in Lynn; and Route 1 north at 114 in Danvers.
Elsewhere, State Police reported flooding on Memorial Drive in Cambridge at the Longfellow Bridge. Local police said several roads in Norwood were impassable because of flooding, and road closures were also reported on Montvale Avenue, Oak Street, Franklin Street, and Summer Street in Stoneham.
In Worcester County, Templeton Fire Chief David Dickie said heavy showers hit Baldwinville around 9 a.m. and stopped about two hours later. Officials said the town got at least 6 inches of rain.
“It was coming hard enough that you couldn’t stand outside,” he said.
In that period, the Fire Department responded to three calls about homes with flooded basements, and fire crews helped affected residents by pumping the water out.
Flooding in Derry, N.H., trapped several people in buildings on Tinkham Avenue, Derry Fire Chief Michael Gagnon said. Two firefighters onboard a rescue boat steered the boat in the chest-level waters and rescued seven people from inside the building. Another eight people were assisted by foot to areas with lower water levels.
Gagnon added that 15 cars suffered flood damage in the area.
In Quincy, a motorist drove into flooded waters and became trapped in their car. Specialist Mathew Hernon of the US Army carried the person out of their vehicle and brought them to safe ground. A dashcam caught the scene on video, according to a tweet posted by the Quincy Police Department.
#CaughtOnCamera A dashcam caught Specialist Mathew Hernon assisting a motorist this afternoon. Specialist Hernon is with the 1058 transportation company out of Hingham. Currently on active orders for assisting recruiters #USArmy #flooding pic.twitter.com/4iy2qjnwb0— Quincy Police (@quincymapolice) September 18, 2018
Another car became stranded on Prospect Street in Waltham following the torrential downpours. Waltham Fire Lieutenant Scott Perry said the car, which was either an Uber or a Lyft, got stuck in a couple of inches of rain. Firefighters arrived at the area and evacuated the driver and passenger to dry land. After the rain subsided, the car was towed, Perry said.
Wednesday will be mostly cloudy with patchy fog and a chance of drizzle in the morning. It will also be noticeably cooler, with high temperatures in the mid-60s, forecasters said.
Wednesday night will be mostly cloudy, with lows in the mid-50s, and Thursday will be mostly sunny, with a high near 65, forecasters said.
Friday will be partly sunny, with a high near 75, forecasters said.
“A warm front will lift north Thursday night, with southerly winds bringing mild temperatures on Friday,” forecasters said. “A cold front will sweep across the region Friday night, with mainly dry but cooler conditions for the upcoming weekend.”
Looking ahead to the weekend, Saturday will be mostly sunny, with a high near 70, and Sunday will be cooler, with a high near 66, forecasters said.