Storm causes hazardous driving, power outages

About a thousand customers lost power over the course of the storm.

A postal worker making their way down State Road in Tisbury. A tree had fallen down blocking traffic but has since been removed. —Daniel Greenman

Updated Feb. 14

Vineyarders across the Island were digging out after a substantial storm dumped several inches of snow. 

Residents were shoveling out driveways and sidewalks on a crisp and sunny Wednesday.

But on Tuesday, a combination of strong winds and heavy snow led to a number of car accidents and hundreds of power outages on the Island, some that lasted into Wednesday. 

First responders were dealing with low-hanging tree limbs and wires, fallen trees that blocked traffic, disabled vehicles, and downed power lines throughout the day.

Local officials warned the public that conditions were not safe for driving and that people should stay off the roads if possible.

As of 5 pm, the National Weather Service reported a reading of 9 inches of fallen snow in Chilmark, the highest for the Island; not far away, also in Chilmark, was a reading of 5.5 inches; 6.5 inches of snow was reported in Tisbury. (A Weather Service meteorologist said the two Chilmark readings were not in error.)

The National Weather Service reported the high wind gust was 52 mph, recorded at the Vineyard Airport.

First responders were dealing with a variety of issues.

A live wire in Chilmark caught fire on High Mark Road and Middle Road. Chilmark Fire Chief Jeremy Bradshaw, who was on his way to a fallen tree elsewhere in town, said a hanging tree limb tripped up the wire, and caused the flame. No injuries or damage were reported. 

Tisbury Fire Chief Greg Leland said on Tuesday afternoon there had been a number of trees that fell down in his town, for example on Clough Lane, and on State Road near Morrice Florist, which the town’s department of public works responded to. Still, there were no fires, and there was only one ambulance run, unrelated to the storm in Tisbury, the chief said. “We are staffed for the storm, so we have additional personnel,” Leland said. 

In Oak Bluffs, Fire Chief Nelson Wirtz noted that several cars slid off the road; there was also an accident involving a car and a Vineyard Transit Authority bus outside the Oak Bluffs Fire Station. The chief said there was no damage to the bus or car, and no injuries.

At about 4:30, his department responded to a report of a utility pole that caught fire on Linden Avenue.

Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee said around noon that there had been some minor calls. Some did cause traffic hazards. A tree fell down on Sanderson Avenue. A truck slid off the road on Bold Meadow Road in Edgartown. McNamee said that conditions might have been worse up-Island, compared with down-Island.

“It was consistently busy throughout the day,” West Tisbury Police Chief Matt Mincone said, adding his department received calls for traffic hazards, stuck vehicles, wire fires, and a person who left a charging phone at the library: “We had a little bit of everything.”

For the most part, Mincone said the storm met expectations, and could have been worse if fewer people took the precaution of staying off the roads. He added that different parts of the Island got varying amounts of snow. 

Eversource reported that about 500 customers were without power in Edgartown as of 1:30 pm Tuesday; that progressed to more than 600 customers, or over 10 percent of the town. Over 100 customers were without power in Tisbury around 4 pm, and there were a number of outages reported across the Island.

“As the brunt of the storm veered south, Martha’s Vineyard is seeing steady snow and wind, and that’s causing damage in pockets of the Island,” Eversource spokesperson Priscilla Ress said on Tuesday. “We have a significant number of crews repairing any damage that’s being caused by trees, limbs, and branches coming down on power lines and damaging electrical equipment.”

As of Wednesday morning, there were still more than 100 customers without power on the Vineyard. 

Ress said on Wednesday that Eversource restored power to 15,000 customers overnight in Massachusetts, primarily on the Cape and the Vineyard. Remaining power outage clusters are expected to be resolved by 6 pm on Wednesday. 

“We have restored power to approximately 65,000 total customers across Massachusetts since the storm began, with the vast majority of outages caused by the snow and winds bringing trees and limbs down onto the electric system, causing damage,” she said. 

The snow totals may have caught some Vineyarders by surprise. The forecast originally estimated 2 to 3 inches of snow, but late Monday, the estimates ranged up to 8 inches.

Kara Shemeth, a firefighter and conservation assistant in Edgartown, said the storm made for a busy day for first responders. Although there was minor flooding, Edgartown didn’t see destructive erosion to South Beach as it did during the storms in December. “It didn’t even come close to the storms we had in December,” she said.

Ahead of the storm, the Vineyard’s public school canceled classes and afterschool programs for Tuesday. The storm also closed Edgartown courthouse and the Island’s town halls. 

The snowy weather also impacted travel for the Steamship Authority, closing terminals for the day, and shutting down trips.

Sam Houghton and Daniel Greenman contributed to this report.


    • Bob—Responsible citizens always have an emergency
      supply of food and essential commodities ready
      for any unexpected disaster.
      It’s much better to be prepared than to compete
      with old ladies to be the first in line for the government
      they sell everything from food to generators to jet stoves
      and water filtration systems.
      And they are “patriots” .
      Everything I have bought from them is of the
      highest quality. The survival food is even pretty good.

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