March madness

Third nor’easter in 10 days brings snow, more tree damage.


Howling winds and heavy wet snow combined to knock down trees, knock out power, and generally wreak havoc across the Island Tuesday.

The emergency scanner buzzed throughout the day Tuesday and into the morning Wednesday with downed wires and fallen trees blocking roads like State Road in Tisbury near the Scottish Bakehouse, as well as Main Street in Vineyard Haven. Basin Road in Menemsha was a dangerous tangle of wind-whipped wires and slanted poles by the afternoon. Clough Lane in Vineyard Haven was coned off and impassible Tuesday evening, with branches and powerlines completely across the pavement. The Clough Lane trees were the pear trees that were part of a controversy last year in Vineyard Haven.

On Wednesday the cleanup continued with chainsaws buzzing, plows continuing to do their thing, and the sun beginning the melt.

According to the National Weather Service in Taunton, West Tisbury measured 8.5 inches of snow and Martha’s Vineyard Airport measured a gust of 67 mph. Martha’s Vineyard was one of the places to meet the definition of a blizzard, with sustained winds in excess of 35 mph, large amounts of snow, and visibility of less than a quarter-mile for at least three hours.

The Vineyard woke up to the latest storm, the third nor’easter in 10 days, and snow and wind were still hanging on as the sun set.

Schools were canceled for two days, and every town office was closed on Tuesday. Edgartown and Aquinnah opened emergency shelters overnight Tuesday into Wednesday because of the extensive power outages on the Island.

Part of a porch roof was blown off the Summercamp Hotel in Oak Bluffs, which bears the brunt of the wind coming off Oak Bluffs Harbor. Speaking to The Times from Maine on Tuesday afternoon, Lark Hotels CEO Rob Blood said he had been apprised of the damage. “There’s definitely some damage, but I believe it’s not as bad as it seems,” he said. “Part of the porch roof on a fourth-story balcony blew off on the west wing, which is the large part of the building. Two rooms on the fifth floor sustained a little bit of damage. The tower isn’t damaged, it’s just roofing paper that blew off from the other part of the building. It looks worse than it actually is.”

During the late afternoon, Tisbury first responders were called to the landing at Lagoon Pond, where a 4×4 Black Dog van wound up in Lagoon Pond.

The driver, Jamie Douglas, was not in the van when rescuers arrived. The van was pulled from the water by a winch on the fire department’s Rescue Truck 661.

Fire Chief John Schilling said he believed Jamie Douglas, whose family owns the popular Black Dog franchise, was the operator of the van, and that the individual kiteboarding in the background as a ramp truck backed into place was his brother, Rob Douglas. Schilling declined to speculate on how the van came to be in Lagoon Pond. He referred the question to Tisbury police, who said Wednesday that Jamie Douglas believed he was depressing the brake but actually pressed the accelerator, causing the van to zoom into the water, per Douglas’ account.

Earlier in the day, an ABC garbage truck fitted with a plow skidded off South Road in Chilmark. Chilmark and Aquinnah police responded to the scene. The driver was uninjured, and told The Times an uprooted tree in the roadway caused the accident.

Lickity Split Logs owner Ken Cottrill, a lieutenant in the Aquinnah Fire Department, plowed Chilmark roads with his dump truck Monday. Branches pressed down across various roadways by heavy snow caused him to hop from the truck often to chainsaw away the hazards. The Times encountered Cottrill on Menemsha Crossroad, where, in between the use of his chainsaw, trees could be heard groaning and cracking in the woods.

“Hear that,” he said. “That’s the danger today.”

Sure enough, branches and trees caved under the pressure of heavy, wet snow that had the look of someone tossing mashed potatoes as it hit windows.

George Brennan, Rich Saltzberg, and Barry Stringfellow contributed to this report.

Utility crews work in Aquinnah on Wednesday afternoon. For the better part of two days, 100 percent of the tiny town has been without power.