Possibility for 70K power outages in Mass. when approaching storm hits, utility company warns

BOSTON — Tens of thousands of people in Massachusetts could lose power when a winter storm packing damaging wind gusts and heavy rain moves in later this week.

Craig Hallstrom, President of Regional Electric Operations at Eversource, said Wednesday that he believes the storm could leave up to 70,000 customers in the dark when the weather system moves in Thursday night.

“We recognize the timing of this storm, right before Christmas, is less than ideal and we’re taking all necessary actions now so our team is ready to respond to whatever this storm may bring,” said Eversource President of Regional Electric Operations Craig Hallstrom. “We’ll have crews prepositioned at our work centers throughout the state before the storm hits so they can immediately get to any damage locations and restore power as quickly as possible. Our employees who work in the field and behind the scenes are ready to give up their holiday time off to ensure that our customers can enjoy their Christmas weekend.”

A high wind warning has been issued for Barnstable, Central Middlesex County, Dukes, Eastern Essex, Eastern Norfolk, Eastern Plymouth, Nantucket, Northern Bristol, Southeast Middlesex, Southern Bristol, Southern Plymouth; Suffolk, Western Essex, Western Norfolk, and Western Plymouth counties from 1 a.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday.

Sustained winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 65 mph are possible in those areas, according to the National Weather Service.

“The wind is the biggest issue. Winds are going to start later on Thursday night and there’s a forecast of gusts of 60 mph along the coast,” Hallstrom said. “Especially because of the duration of those winds, we can expect some tree damage. That’s our biggest risk.”

With widespread damage expected, Hallstrom said Eversource has called in crews from outside of Massachusetts and made extra equipment available for crews in the event a large emergency response is needed.

“All I can say is we’re going to be ready...We need to be there for our customers,” Hallstrom said. “We have about 400, 500 line crews. We’re still looking for more...We’ll probably pick up additional crews just because it’s a holiday.”

Hallstrom urged residents, especially those who live along the coast, to charge all devices, stock up on food and batteries, and take inventory of medication before the storm hits.

A coastal flood watch has also been issued for Barnstable, Dukes, Eastern Essex, Eastern Norfolk, Eastern Plymouth, Nantucket, Southern Bristol, Southern Plymouth, and Suffolk counties from late Thursday night through Friday afternoon.

Hallstrom noted that there will be plenty of crews on standby in New Hampshire and Connecticut as well.

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