Thousands deal with outages in Berkshires


An unusually volatile weather pattern returned to the Berkshires and Southern Vermont for a third time in two weeks leaving thousands of homes and businesses without power for several hours Monday.

The first line of thunderstorms hit North County around 2:30 p.m. as strong gusty winds, accompanied by torrential downpours, caused about 2,000 blackouts in North Adams and parts of Williamstown, according to National Grid. Nearly all electricity service was restored by nightfall.

In Southern Vermont, Green Mountain Power reported several customers without power in Stam ford and 151 customers without power in Readsboro.

By early evening, Mother Nature turned her wrath toward Pittsfield as a severe thunderstorm blew through the city shortly after 7 p.m. The storm's high winds knocked out power to 800 customers of Western Massachusetts Electric Co. in Pittsfield, WMECO officials said. The utility's website also reported outages in Hinsdale, Lanesborough and Cheshire. WMECO expected all power to be restored by midnight or 1 a.m. today at the latest.

Each storm downed numerous trees and electrical wires, with State Road in North Adams and Gale Avenue in Pittsfield among the hardest hit neighborhoods, fire officials said in both communities.

Jean Rotti of Fort Hill Avenue near Gale was amazed how quickly the storm came in from the west.

"The wind was incredible as I've never seen it come off the mountain like that before," she said referring to Shaker Mountain near the Hancock town line.

The strong winds brought down several trees and tree limbs along Gale Avenue, one reportedly hit a car and home at 510 Gale Ave. No injuries were reported.

On the heels of the sixth straight sunny, pleasant weekend, a risk of severe thunderstorms and heavy downpours remains on the radar during afternoons and evenings through Wednesday along with steamy, tropical heat and humidity, according to Na tional Weather Service meteorologist Ingrid Amberger.

What the Albany, N.Y.,-based forecaster described as a "very active weather pattern" started Monday afternoon, with strong to severe thunderstorms in localized areas along with increasingly uncomfortable temperatures well into the 80s.

As the Berkshires braces for possibly more severe weather, clean up continues in Pittsfield and North Adams from Monday's storms.

Keith Bona, a North Adams city councilor, was at work when neighbors called him about a large cluster of trees that had fallen behind his North Street home. Among the fallen trees was a maple tree four-feet in diameter and numerous smaller growths.

He and his neighbors suspected the damage was caused by a microburst, a sudden, localized air current. Neighbors reported hearing very strong winds before the rains ceased.

"I'm just glad nothing hit the house," Bona said while surveying the fallen trees with his son AJ.

Other fallen trees included one on Cady Street and at the Johnson School on School Street. Public works crews were out inspecting the aftermath elsewhere in the city, as several neighborhoods and intersections in the city's downtown collected up to a foot of water.

A repeat and more intense performance is likely today, with Wednesday shaping up as the greatest risk for severe weather, followed by a return to pleasant, dry conditions on Thursday right through Saturday.

Berkshire Eagle staff writer Ed Damon contributed to the story.


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