(Updated 3:25 p.m.) Thousands without power in Hopkinton; heavy snow damaging trees, wires across the region

(Updated 3:25 p.m.) Thousands without power in Hopkinton; heavy snow damaging trees, wires across the region

Updated 3:25 p.m.

Throughout the region, power outages remain the biggest issue that towns are facing in the region.

According to the latest data from National Grid, there were 20,340 customers in the state still without power as of 3:15 p.m. including 2,446 in Hopkinton, representing over 65 percent of the community. 

Charlestown also had a considerable number of outages with 783, while Richmond had 466 and Westerly reported 194 outages as of 3:15 p.m. 

Officials said crews are “in every county in the state” and are attempting to address outages as quickly as possible. In the southwestern corner, early estimates indicate electrical services would likely be restored prior to 11 p.m. Wednesday.

Across the border in Connecticut, Eversource officials were also busy, but reported a minimal number of outages in the community. By 3:30 p.m. there were 66 reported customers without electric services in Stonington and 22 without power in North Stonington. 

Updated: 1:15 p.m.

Extensive wind and snow-related damage has left thousands in the dark as the community continues to wrestle with numerous incidents of downed wires and fallen trees, including some which have left roads impassable.

Hopkinton was among one of the hardest hit communities in Rhode Island, with 2,444 National Grid customers without power and multiple road closures to report as of 1p.m., representing almost 70 percent of the community.

Hopkinton Emergency Management Director Ronald MacDonald said the strong winds prevented National Grid crews from using the bucket trucks, but that crews were still doing what they could to assess and repair damage.

“Obviously, if the wind’s too high they can’t go up, but they are trying to pick away at the outages,” he said. “They have two poles snapped in a couple of areas, and a tree on wires.”

The damaged poles are located on Bridge Street near Arcadia Road and Fenner Hill Road. There is also a tree down on high tension wires at 930 Main Street in Hope Valley.

“They’re trying to see if that’s one of the bigger problems,” MacDonald said.

Town Manager William McGarry said crews were working to repair the outage on Bridge Street. He said the wet, heavy snow had been the main culprit in the power outages.

“The trucks are there now,” he said. “Once they restore that, we’ll be in much better shape. The roads are cleared. They’re all passable.”

“So much for the powdery snow. It’s like cement,” he said.

Although Hopkinton was one of the hardest hit towns in the region, they were not alone.

By 1 p.m., winds and heavy snow had left more than 26,000 in the state without electricity including those in Hopkinton, as well as 747 customers in Charlestown, 729 in Richmond and 188 in Westerly.

National Grid said in a press release that crews are ready to go and have been periodically restoring power across the state where safe to do so, however no estimates were in place as restoration would be heavily impacted by the duration and damage caused in the storm.

In Westerly, officials said the biggest concern has been the weight of the snow causing problems with infrastructure in the community.

“The problem is the weight of this snow is causing tree branches and limbs to break off, impacting roads and electrical wires,” Westerly Police Capt. Shawn Lacey said. He noted the department had a few spin outs, but no serious accidents.

Town Manager Derrik M. Kennedy said in a phone interview that crews are busy making roads passable, but are also encountering issues with the heavy, wet snow.  All town plows and vehicles, 30 in all, were still in service and out working on the town's 720 roads at about noon, he said.

Kennedy said the town was also struggling with a parking ban. Despite a parking ban going into effect at midnight, he said a few violators had their vehicles towed and others received tickets.

As the power outages start to spread, Kennedy said he has also maintained close communication with Amy Grzybowski, the town's emergency management director, and Westerly police to determine whether opening a shelter will be necessary.

In the eastern part of the region, Richmond Town Administrator Karen Pinch said the town was once again dealing with hundreds of power outages.

“I know Hillsdale’s out again,” she said, referring to the heavily-wooded Hillsdale Road neighborhood. “This is the third time in a row.” 

Pinch said town crews were focusing on removing the heavy, wet snow from the roads, but were also having to clear away fallen trees. Pinch also noted that by lunchtime, conditions seemed to be improving.

Charlestown's Emergency Management Director Kevin Gallup reported numerous homes and businesses without power at about 1 p.m. Tuesday. Plows are out and clearing the roads with little trouble, he said. 

"The thing that saved us was there is no school today, and Town Hall is closed," he said. "There's very little traffic.

A fluffy snow to begin the storm has given way to a more wet, heavy variety, making it tougher to clear the snow, Gallup said. 

"We still have a ways to go," Gallup said.

In Connecticut, towns including Stonington and North Stonington have weathered the storm largely with only a few unexpected challenges. A barricade was set up along Jerry Browne Road in Stonington, officials confirmed, but Eversource crews have addressed outages in both communities through the storm and have limited the impact to local customers.

According to the utility, there were just 59 outages in Stonington and 73 in North Stonington.

“So far, so good. We’ve had a couple of cars stuck here and there, but other than that it’s uneventful,” said Stonington Police Capt. Todd Olson

Barbara McKrell, director of the Stonington Department of Public Works, said that as of 12:30 p.m., snow removal operations were in full swing.

“We have 14 plow routes, so all of our trucks are out addressing the roads,” she said.

A combination of above-freezing temperatures prior to the storm and pretreating with salt were making it easier to clear the roads, she said.

“Our goal is to have all the streets cleared off by the middle of the night,” she said. “We anticipate we will end up being here all night because it takes three to four hours for each driver to push back the snow on their route from the time the snow stops; then we start clearing sidewalks that the town is responsible for, then we do the schools, and then we go out and re-salt the roads.”

Temperatures will drop below freezing overnight and re-salting the roads will prevent black ice from forming, she said.

In North Stonington, Main Street was reported blocked by a down tree as of 12:26,but was cleared by 1:30.

The town had eight plow trucks on town roads, First Selectman Mike Urgo said, and motorists were heeding the warnings not to drive

"So far it's been better than I would have anticipated," he said. "But we still have several hours to go."

State police in both Rhode Island and Connecticut each said although the storm has caused significant damage to electrical systems, it has been relatively routine when it comes to accidents.

“Six minor crashes have been reported statewide since midnight; one resulted in minor injuries,” said Laura Meade Kirk, Rhode Island State police spokesman, in a press release at noon. “Troopers also have responded to approximately eight reports of disabled vehicles, including several cars that went off the road.”

Through the overnight and morning portion of the storm, Connecticut State Police had responded to just 26 accidents statewide, less than at the same point during the previous two nor’easters.

Updated: Tuesday, 10 a.m.

WESTERLY – A third nor’easter in as many weeks continues to drop heavy snow on the region and much like the previous two storms, the weather is wreaking havoc on National Grid’s electrical system in southwestern Rhode Island.

National Grid reported that, as of 10 a.m., there more than 19,000 were without electricity statewide including over 7,500 outages in Washington County. There were just 64 active outages reported in Westerly, with a total of 283 outages in Charlestown, 582 in Hopkinton and 764 in Richmond. North Kingstown was the hardest hit in the county, reporting more than 3,400 outages in all.

The company indicated that much of the damage could be repaired today – estimates in Washington County indicated restoration could be complete as early as 6 p.m. – but officials warn information is preliminary and restoration will be dependent on track of the storm and level of damage caused.

In Connecticut, Eversource reported less trouble with the power grid although outages were occurring across the state. In North Stonington, there were 141 customers without power as of 10 a.m. No outages have been reported in Stonington at this time.

For police and fire officials, spin outs led to a very busy morning, but no major incidents were reported. The larger concern was fallen tree limbs, including one on wires in the area of Diamond Hill Road and Maxson Hill Road in Hopkinton that led to a temporary closure.

In several other areas, police reported partial road closures of a single lane due to the debris. Issues of this nature were reported on Woody Hill Road in Bradford and Fenner Hill Road in Hope Valley.

Updated: Wednesday 8:15 a.m. 

Winter weather has reached the region, but for some the heavy snow has meant the loss of electrical services. 

There were more than 3,700 electrical outages in Rhode Island as of 8 a.m., including nearly 1,300 in Washington County. Hopkinton was among one of the worst hit communities early on, with officials reporting 410 customers without electricity. According to National Grid, there were also 183 outages in Charlestown, 125 in Richmond and 64 in Westerly. 

In Connecticut, towns were less impacted by the early portion of the storm, but power was out in pockets around the state. There were no outages to report in Stonington, but Eversource said 89 customers are currently without electricity in North Stonington. 

No major accidents were reported, but police cautioned against use of roads. Motorists were asked to take it slow, be prepared for delays and snow drifts, and avoid travel on Tuesday if possible to allow plows to more actively clear roadways. All area schools and town offices are closed today. 

According to the National Weather Service, a delay in the start time could impact the duration of the storm but many other saspects of the forecast have held true. Following slightly less than anticipated overnight, the forecast calls for snow through the day, mainly before 5 p.m., with an additional 8 to 12 inches possible.

Original Story (Tuesday, 6:15 p.m.)

A third nor’easter in as many weeks appears to be headed directly for the southern New England shoreline — and with forecasts calling for heavy snow accumulation of 10 to 16 inches, local schools and organizations aren’t waiting for the first flakes to fall to hunker down.

Several area schools made the decision to close Tuesday, some prior to sending students home for the day. With predictions of heavy snow, coastal flooding and strong winds, schools in Westerly, Stonington and Chariho will remain closed Tuesday. The St. Michael’s School and Pine Point School will also remain closed.

North Stonington had not cancelled school as of 6 p.m. Monday.

As of 5 p.m., officials announced that Westerly, Hopkinton, Richmond and Charlestown town halls would all remain closed on Tuesday as well. In addition, all Rhode Island state offices will be closed for the day and non-essential employees have been told to stay home in an effort to keep as much traffic as possible off the roads.

In addition, Westerly and Stonington police have each issued public reminders that when snow levels reach 2 inches, a parking ban will take effect through the duration of the storm. Richmond will have a parking ban take effect beginning at 9 p.m., Hopkinton at 11 p.m. and both will remain until further notice.

Numerous other organizations, including libraries and senior centers in Westerly, Stonington and Richmond, have also announced their intent to stay closed on Tuesday. Anyone planning to head out is urged to call ahead, officials said, to make sure their destination will be open during the storm.

According to the National Weather Service, snow is expected to begin before midnight and will continue through much of the day Tuesday in greater Westerly. The forecast calls for 3 to 5 inches overnight with a low around 32 and winds of 11 to 17 mph possible. The snow will continue into Tuesday, dropping an additional 7 to 11 inches daytime before coming to an end sometime around 4 p.m. It will be breezy, with winds of 17 to 23 mph and gusts of up to 37 mph possible.

Tuesday night will then bring a 30 percent chance of some additional snow, with skies then gradually clearing. Less than an inch of additional snow is expected tomorrow night.



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