Intense storm topples trees, knocks out power, cancels ferries

It was fast-moving, but left a long-lasting impression on the Island.


Updated Oct. 18

Another powerful coastal storm, this one called a “bomb cyclone,” knocked out power to some areas, toppled trees, and caused ferry cancellations. The National Weather Service out of Norton reports a wind gust of up to 58 mph in Edgartown, and as high as 90 mph in Provincetown. Coastal flooding occurred in some familiar spots, including Beach Road outside The Times building.The Steamship Authority canceled trips starting at 5:30 am Thursday morning, before pulling the plug on all of them at around 3 pm. “Given the forecast for strong, sustained winds, we made the decision to cancel,” Steamship Authority spokesman Sean Driscoll said.  At 4 pm Thursday, Driscoll told The Times another factor in canceling all ferries was that “Woods Hole Road right now is impassable.” Falmouth was also hit hard, with downed trees and power lines and extensive street flooding. Power outages were rampant.
According to the Eversource online map, there were more than 1,000 customers without electricity on the Island, with Aquinnah, Chilmark, and West Tisbury particularly hard hit. Much of that was rectified overnight. “[B]ut for a few scattered outages, Martha’s Vineyard is effectively restored,” Eversource spokesman Reid Lamberty emailed at 8:30 am Friday.

Edgartown Police reported on their Facebook page: “Busy night Island-wide for emergency services. Trees down, power outages, street flooding, and so much more. Cleanup has already started. Please drive carefully as you start your day. Some cleanup work will continue into the morning hours.” The police also posted a video, shared here, that showed heavy rain, pounding surf, and street flooding.
The West Tisbury Police wrote: “As of 5:30 am Music Street is impassable due to lines in a tree across the road. Keep your eyes open for traffic cones marking hazards. Power crews are working to restore power.”
On Thursday afternoon, residents of West Tisbury got a message from Eversource: “Working w/officials on emergencies. Multi-day outages possible. Updates online. Stay safe.”
The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning effective until 6 pm Thursday.
The Dukes County Regional Emergency Communication Center lost power Thursday morning, but dispatchers did not lose the ability to communicate with the public, or the police, fire, and EMS departments. The communication center fielded reports of live wires, downed trees, pole fires, and flooding.
“We lost power, but we never lost communication,” Sheriff Robert Ogden said in a press release.
Power went out at 1 am after a generator malfunctioned. Battery backup kept phone lines and computer systems functioning. In the rare event systems go down, 911 calls from Dukes County are temporarily routed through Barnstable County, who then relay information to Dukes County telecommunicators. Telecommunicators dispatched from the mobile command unit until power was fully restored.
Tisbury harbormaster John Crocker told The Times the weather didn’t loose any boats in Vineyard Haven that he has been notified of. He described the storm surge on Wednesday night as unusually rapid and perplexing, due to the direction of the wind.
On the Oak Bluffs side of Lagoon Pond, a sailboat either broke or dragged its anchorline, and began to drift toward Lagoon Pond Bridge. Oak Bluffs Harbor supervisor Aaron Wilson said he received a call about the vessel sometime between 12:30 and 1 pm. Wilson said under such dangerous weather conditions, and with no lives in harm’s way, Oak Bluffs Harbor staff didn’t deploy. At about 1:15, the sailboat was towed away by unidentified mariners. It does not appear it hit the bridge or beached.
The Tashmoo end of Herring Creek Road in Tisbury flooded in several sections.
Tisbury Police Chief Mark Saloio said a number of trees came down in the town, and there were several struck wires.
“By and large we’ve been OK,” he said. “There have been no injuries.”
A limb did smash the windshield of a cruiser, he said, but the officer behind the wheel wasn’t hurt. Saloio said the Steamship Authority has hired a Tisbury Police detail starting at 4:30 am Friday morning to help manage the influx of people and vehicles at the Vineyard Haven terminal.
Tisbury Fire Chief John Schilling said an “energized wire” burned a small patch of ground.
West Tisbury Fire Chief Manuel Estrella III said overall the storm wasn’t too bad, but there had been some “smoldering and burning wires.”
Oak Bluffs Police Lt. Tim Williamson said his department had a “really busy” overnight shift and a “pretty busy” morning shift. Downed wires and alarm calls topped the police responses triggered by the storm, he said. Debris washed over the seawall on Sea View Avenue, he said, and MassDOT cleared it. Willimason said Oak Bluffs town administrator Bob Whritenour’s on-Island vehicle was damaged by a limb.
As of 4:30 pm, Chilmark town administrator Tim Carroll said town hall was still on a generator, but electricity had been restored to most of the town. Chilmark suffered numerous downed poles and trees in the storm, he said. On Friday Carroll said power was restored to town hall at 8 pm Thursday night.
Edgartown town administrator James Hagerty said Church Street was without power, but otherwise Edgartown’s electricity is fairly intact. On Friday Hagerty said he believed Church Street had been restored. A crew from the highway department was dispatched to Chappy in the morning to clear downed trees, he said. Hagerty said harbormaster Charlie Blair reported to him that three boats were damaged in the storm, as well as a finger pier. 

Reporters Rich Saltzberg and Brian Dowd contributed to this report.


  1. “The communication center fielded reports of live write, downed trees, pole fires, and flooding.” ????
    “Live write”? You mean the Dukes County Sheriff’s Dept hosted a writers conference during the storm?

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