(Updated) Strong winds wreaking havoc on Rhode Island electric systems; flooding reported at Westerly shoreline

(Updated) Strong winds wreaking havoc on Rhode Island electric systems; flooding reported at Westerly shoreline

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Strong winds and heavy rain have wreaked havoc today on the southwestern Rhode Island electrical system, leaving nearly 8,500 National Grid customers in Washington County in the dark, including more than 4,700 in Westerly.

Statewide, National Grid reported 25,794 total customer electrical outages including over 8,500 in Washington County. Downed trees and electrical wires were causing the heaviest damage in the region, while some minor flooding was reported in areas near the shoreline including along Atlantic Avenue.

Westerly Police Chief Richard Silva said the department had been busy through the morning and early afternoon, addressing issues as they came in an effort to keep roads open. Due to concerns regarding traffic issues, he said the department had placed officers at several intersections along Route 1 including at the intersection with Airport Road and Route 78.

“We are trying to cover some of the major intersections that have traffic signals with officers, when possible,” he said in an email.

The storm was wreaking havoc in other communities as well. In Charlestown, there were multiple “partial closures” as a result of fallen wires and trees. More than 1,470 customers were also without power by 1 p.m. Friday.

Hopkinton police also reported numerous calls to downed wires, trees, branches and minor flooding, as did officers in Richmond. There were a total of 745 outages reported in Hopkinton and 873 in Richmond.

“The PD is inundated with calls of wires down, fallen trees and such,” a Hopkinton dispatcher said.

Across state lines, Stonington reported multiple calls for wires on trees and had at least 3 instances of tree limbs being lit on fire as a result of contact with live wires. The town had more than 200 outages as of 10 a.m. and although none were remaining by noon, Eversource reported nearly 50 new outages by 1 p.m. In North Stonington, 152 customers were without power.

Stonington Police Capt. Todd Olson issued a reverse call to residents warning them of the issues and asking that people be prepared for possible flooding and outages. The town had “many calls” for assistance to downed wires and fallen trees specifically, officials said. The storm had also led several organizations to announce cancellations on Friday, including changes to the following events:

The opening reception for “Scratching the Surface” at the Artists Cooperative Gallery of Westerly, will be postponed. The event will be held Saturday evening instead, from 5 to 8 p.m. 

The Rhode Island Council on the Arts has canceled the opening reception Friday for the 2018 RISCA Fellowship Exhibition at the University of Rhode Island. 

The Pump House Music Works in Peace Dale has cancelled its concert, the John Fuzek & Folk Support Group, for Friday. Those who purchased tickets can keep them for when it is rescheduled, or use them to gain entrance into another upcoming show. 

Original Story (10:15 a.m.)

Windy weather and heavy rain has caused some damage locally, leading to multiple reports of branches down and several reported outages through the region on Friday morning.

According to National Grid, there were roughly 800 outages in Rhode Island as of 10 a.m., including approximately 143 in Hopkinton where several downed branches and trees, including a fallen tree along Collins Road in the area of Tomaquag Road was causing lane closures.

Hopkinton was by far the most impacted community in Washington County. As of 10 a.m., there were a total of 276 outages in the county including those in Hopkinton and an additional 91 in Exeter. Richmond reported just five outages, while neither Charlestown nor Westerly had any electrical outages as of 10 a.m.

Power was expected to be restored all Washington County customers prior to 1:30 p.m., according to utility officials.

Across the river in Stonington, police and fire officials were busy with numerous “minor incidents” including reports of trees and wires down on several private properties, as well as a fallen tree that had taken out wires along Sharon Road.

No road closures were reported, but officials urged caution with traveling and noted that high winds were causing debris in several areas of town.

According to data from Eversource, there were roughly 205 customers without power in Stonington and an additional 25 without power in North Stonington. No time estimates were available for restoration, but officials indicated that repairs were expected to be completed on Friday.

According to the National Weather Service, rain is expected to continue through the evening and into the overnight hours Saturday morning with as much as 3 inches of rain expected. Rain could be mixed with snow at night, though little to no accumulation is expected. Wind gusts could be upwards of 55 mph through the day. 

A flood watch, coastal flood advisory and high wind warning with remain in effect through Saturday morning. The wind warning will continue into the day Saturday and the coastal warning remains in effect through Sunday morning.

Jason Vallee


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