Area recovers after strong storm

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BENNINGTON — Thousands of southern Vermont and eastern New York residents lost electricity after thunderstorms with strong winds swept through the region Thursday night, downing trees and branches that snapped poles and power lines.

Utility crews worked throughout Friday to restore electricity to homes and businesses as municipal crews removed fallen trees, branches and debris from roads, homes and yards. In the early evening, Green Mountain Power reported some Bennington and Windham County residents were still without power. National Grid reported hundreds were still without power in parts of Rensselaer and Washington New York Counties. Power was expected to be restored sometime Friday night.

The storms affected more than 30,000 customers across Vermont, said Dotty Schnure, spokeswoman for Green Mountain Power. At it's peak, about 6,600 customers were affected in Bennington County. The hardest-hit areas were those near Brattleboro and Westminster in Windham County.

"We had crews working throughout the night and we brought on extra crews," Schnure said on Friday morning. "We've made a lot of progress, but there was a lot of damage."

By 2:30 p.m., outages still affected some 200 customers in parts of Arlington, Bennington, Pownal, Shaftsbury and Winhall. Most Bennington County customers were reconnected by the early evening. But crews with GMP were still working to restore power in a handful of Windham County towns: 146 customers in Jamaica, 269 in Putney and 433 in Westminster.

The storm wreaked havoc around Hoosick, N.Y., where utility poles snapped and roads were closed into the morning due to fallen power lines and debris. Hoosick Falls Central School administrators dismissed all students early, citing continuing power outages and a generator failure. In Rensselaer County, about 550 customers were still without power at 6 p.m., most being in the greater Hoosick area, according to the National Grid Outage Central website.

Hoosick Falls Mayor Rob Allen said the village is working hard to clean up after the storm.

"The immediate priority right now is working with National Grid on the few roads that remain closed due to downed power lines and poles," Allen wrote in a community update on Friday afternoon. "After that, cleanup for the entire village will begin immediately, with a focus on the area where tomorrow's race [32nd Annual Wood Memorial 5K & Fun Run] will be."

The storm blew through between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Thursday and brought wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour. It followed unseasonable warmth brought by a high pressure system that provided an unstable environment conducive for thunderstorms, according to the NWS office in Albany, N.Y. The worst damage occurred from Queensbury in Warran County to Kinsbury in Washington County. Those storms produced a macroburst, or concentrated area of straight line wind damage.

A high of 88 was recorded at the Bennington Morse State Airport on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. On Thursday, it reached 90. A record of 91 in Albany on Wednesday beat a previous record of 89 set in 1977. Thursday's high of 94 tied with a record made in 1962. The normal value is 70; last year it was 69.

A cold front brought seasonable temperatures and gusty westerly winds on Friday. Saturday's forecast is sunny with a high near 67, with a low of 40 at night. Sunday will be partly sunny with a high near 69 and showers likely Sunday night into Monday.

National Grid reported that, at its peak, 40,000 people were affected across Upstate New York, from Syracuse east to the Vermont state line. At 9 a.m., the utility provider reported 29,300 customers without power. That number steadily dropped from 26,000 at 11 a.m., 21,000 by 2:30 p.m. and 11,000 by 6 p.m. By then, the provider reported about 3,300 customers were without power in Washington County: 125 in Cambridge and 460 in White Creek.

In Massachusetts, some 6,000 customers in northern Berkshire County lost power when a tree fell across power lines that fed a substation. National Grid reported some 3,400 customers were reconnected within three hours and the rest by 2 a.m. Friday.


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