Christmas winds cut power up-Island

On Christmas day, wind blew over a tree in Orange Peel Bakery owner Juli Vanderhoop's yard. – Gabrielle Mannino

Wind gusting to 63 mph on Christmas caused power outages in Chilmark and Aquinnah. The power went out when many up-Islanders were opening gifts or preparing holiday meals.

At least 432 customers lost electricity on Pasture Lane in Chilmark, according to emails obtained by The Times that Eversource sent to Chilmark customers.

A downed tree on State Road in Aquinnah pulled power and telephone lines down, cutting service for several Aquinnah residents. Aquinnah town manager Jeffrey Madison said in a brief telephone interview that the Christmas Day power losses lasted from approximately 9:30 am to noon. However, Orange Peel Bakery owner and Aquinnah selectman Juli Vanderhoop lost her electrical power until 9 pm, and was still without her phone lines on Tuesday.

Ms. Vanderhoop said the strong wind gusts came through only briefly, and that all it took was one, “big, magnificent gust of wind” to bring down the tree. “It sounded like a freight train,” she said.

Chilmark Police Chief Jonathan Klaren told The Times that a tree was reported down across Middle Road at 9:48 am, and a tree or limb was reported on State Road at 9:57 am. He said he could not determine yet if those incidents affected power lines. At least one burglar alarm call could have been caused by the outage in town, he said.

“Eversource crews worked throughout the night restoring power to impacted customers,” Eversource spokesperson Anne Marie Walsh wrote in an email to the town of Chilmark. “At 9 am this morning, the Company is returning to normal operations, and all liaisons will be relieved of duty.”

The high winds were the result of a “sharp squall line that went through” just north of Martha’s Vineyard, according to Bill Simpson, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Taunton. The squalls produced relatively rare thundersnow near Boston and in some communities south of the city, he noted. On the Vineyard, a report came from Edgartown of a 63 mph gust at 9:32 am, while Martha’s Vineyard Airport clocked a 52 mph gust at 9:28 am, Mr. Simpson said. At Nantucket Airport, a 66 mph gust was reported at 9:43, he added.