About 15,000 Cape residents lose power at height of storm
Police, fire departments report slew of minor accidents Friday
By James Kinsella and Sam Pearsall
The heavy wet snow that came down in Friday's storm, and that clung to tree branches, roofs and any other surface it could find, quickly transported Cape Cod back to a Currier & Ives world.
Unfortunately, the storm also transported about 15,000 Cape residents to power outages of varying lengths.
As of 6:30 p.m. Saturday, about 2,000 Cape residents still lacked power, according to Caroline Allen, a spokeswoman for Nstar Electric, which provides power to the Cape and the Vineyard along with the greater Boston area.
Philip Burt, a weather observer in Yarmouth Port who provides commentary and current conditions at CapeCodWeather.net, called Friday's storm "pretty typical for Cape Cod, especially for the variability."
Burt said the heaviest snowfalls on the Cape straddled the Cape Cod Canal, coming in around 10 or 11 inches.
Snowfall generally decreased farther east on the Cape, Burt said, but increased in moisture content, which especially was noticeable east of Dennis.
Snow fell in Yarmouth to a depth of about 8 inches, but was closer to 5 inches in Brewster and Eastham, Burt said.
One East Harwich observer reported heavy rain, winds averaging 45 miles per hour for several hours overnight, and very little snow accumulation.
Burt said a slight difference in temperature caused the divergence in how the storm affected the Cape, with temperatures just below freezing generating higher amounts of fluffier snow from Dennis east, and temperatures just above freezing resulting in wetter, lower snowfalls east of Dennis.
Allen said Nstar, having restored power to larger blocks of customers, was engaged late Saturday afternoon in painstaking work where only one or two houses might be involved at a time.
"We had a lot of heavy, wet snow" that sent branches down on power lines, resulting in outages, Allen said.
A total of 40,000 Nstar customers were without power at the height of the storm, most of them south of Boston and on the Cape, Allen said.
Lieut. William Packer of the Barnstable Police Department reported that conditions were pretty good in Barnstable on Saturday after a number of power outages and motor vehicle accidents during the height of the storm on Friday afternoon and evening.
From 4 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Lieutenant Packer said, the Barnstable police responded to quite a few motor vehicle mishaps, many of them involving vehicles sliding off the road and getting stuck. The people involved generally weren't hurt.
The Falmouth Fire Rescue Dept. canceled its Christmas party last night at the Coonamessett Inn in Falmouth per order of Chief Paul Brodeur.
One firefighter who helped organize the party this year said it was to make sure personnel were available for storm coverage that was enstated from 3 p.m. Friday until Saturday morning at 7.
Another firefighter on duty said there were about 30-plus calls on their 24-hour shift yesterday, "usual for a storm, but unusual for day-to-day operations." Several minor motor vehicle accidents were reported in Falmouth, along with many calls for low branches and wires, even transformers that were blowing up. Nstar was called to these emergencies.
Wayne Lamson, general manager of the Steamship Authority, said the SSA cancelled its final trips on its Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard routes on Friday evening, due to blowing snow, poor visibility and wind.
Lamson said the ferry Martha's Vineyard, which has been standing in for the ferry Eagle on the Nantucket route, also had been coping with a faulty bow thruster, which helps the ferry dock safely. Repairs were under way Saturday on the equipment.
More winter weather awaits the Cape this weekend. Rain and snow are forecast for Sunday into the evening. Burt said temperatures, which have been relatively mild, then will dive into the teens Sunday.
Winds also are anticipated to increase -- Burt said gusts could reach 50 miles per hour -- a situation that typically plays havoc with scheduled Steamship Authority trips. The National Weather Service has forecast a high wind warning from Sunday evening into Monday morning, with west winds between 30 to 40 miles per hour, gusting to 55 miles per hour.
See Cape Cod Today's forecast here.