Middlesex County

Eversource expecting widespread power outages

SHERBORN, Mass. — Eversource has a message for Massachusetts residents about to get pummeled by a mid-March blizzard: get ready for a wild and potentially dark, cold ride.

“I think, as everybody knows, this is a potentially significant event,” said Craig Hallstrom, president of Regional Electric Operations for Eversource. “And, you know, the weather models are still not in agreement.”

That may be true for what kind of precipitation falls where and how much — but forecasters seem to agree on one thing: the storm will come with significant wind — potentially gusting to near hurricane strength along the coast.

“Usually there’s a lot of high wind along the coast, but as you move inland they subside,” said Hallstrom. “But this event is significant winds across the whole state.”

Eversource expects widespread power outages as a result — especially because some areas will get hit with wet, sticky snow — the kind that clings to limbs.

“I heard a weather person say it was like Gorilla Glue snow and that’s probably the thing that has me most concerned,” said Hallstrom.

Eversource has been tracking the potential for this storm since last week — and made preparations.

“We have a fleet of vehicles with about 100 line trucks,” Hallstrom said. “Because of the heavy, wet snow, the winds, we expect a lot of tree damage, so we hired 500 tree crews.”

The problem is, those crews may not be able to work safely until Wednesday.

“Anything over 20, 30 miles per hour will usually end up breaking some of the weaker limbs,” said Leo Simkins, a certified arborist and owner of Simkins Tree Service. “Long duration storm, we may not be able to go out and clean it up until the next day, when winds die down.”

And Simkins expects many tree limbs will fall.

“The trees have been going through a lot of stress,” he said. “We had the gypsy moth about three years ago, and that defoliated a lot of the oak trees. We’ve had the Emerald Ash Borer really killing a lot of the white ash and some of the green ash. And on top of those invasive insects, we’ve had droughts.”

We’ve also had an unusually warm winter, conditions conducive to the uprooting of trees.

“If you had nice, frozen ground then it would anchor the roots in a little bit better than wet, soggy ground,” said Simkins. I think we’ll probably have a lot of phone calls coming in tomorrow and a busy couple of weeks after.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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