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Lenox windstorm reached 85 mph, topping hurricane strength standard

LENOX — The intense thunderstorm that scored a direct hit on parts of Lenox last Tuesday afternoon inflicted straight-line wind damage on homes and vehicles, the National Weather Service now reports, following a survey.

Top winds from the supercell storm reached an estimated 85 mph around 5 p.m., the government agency said. Hurricane-force winds are defined as 75 mph or higher. The weather service initially tracked winds reaching 70 mph.

The storm caused the death of a motorist, Darrin Cawthron, 56, of Derry, N.H., after a tree crushed his Ford F-150 pickup truck on Route 7 in Lenox, near the Lee town road. He was the only occupant of the vehicle.

Cawthron was driving in the travel lane at the state highway’s intersection with Old Stockbridge Road at the height of the storm, police reported. Route 7 passed through a forested area at that location, just north of High Lawn Farm.

The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. There were no reported witnesses to the accident and no other vehicles were involved. Route 7 was closed for about five hours on Tuesday evening from Summer Street in the town of Lee to the Kemble/Plunkett street intersection in Lenox.

transformers and power lines on ground

Tuesday's storm that ripped through Lenox tore down multiple transformers and power lines.

The path of the storm, nearly one mile wide, was tracked for nearly two miles from residential areas just west of downtown Lenox to the village of Lenox Dale, the weather service report stated. It was part of a line of thunderstorms moving west to east, producing damaging wind gusts.

“Damage was sporadic across the town, and ranged from broken tree limbs to large diameter trees snapped and uprooted,” according to the report, which was described as preliminary and subject to change pending a final review of the event.

The storm caused widespread blackouts in Lenox, with most National Grid customers back online before midnight Tuesday, but some remaining without power until 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Trees and wires came down on at least 15 streets. Department of Public Works crews led by Superintendent William Gop cleared blocked roads late into Tuesday evening, resuming their work shortly after dawn the next morning.

Among the hardest hit roads, according to the police report: Main Street, Kemble Street, Routes 7/20, Plunkett Street, Walker Street, Housatonic Street, Old Stockbridge Road, Undermountain Road, Yokun Avenue, Bracelan Court, as well as Brown and Crystal streets in Lenox Dale.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com.

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