BOSTON (NewsNation Now) — Winds close to hurricane strength swept across parts of the northeastern U.S. on Wednesday morning, toppling trees, taking down power lines and leaving tens of thousands of residents without power.
The National Weather Service reported that winds gusted as high as 72 mph near Boston at around 7 a.m. before leveling off through the morning. Power lines were reported down across the region, with the worst damage reported in southern New England.
In Massachusetts, more than 65,000 utility customers had lost power by 9 a.m., according to the state’s Emergency Management Agency, but within an hour the figure had dropped to about 45,000.
Rhode Island and Connecticut each had more than 20,000 customers without power, leading some schools to move classes online or cancel them entirely.
Concerns about Rhode Island wind gusts were compounded by the weakened tree roots from lack of rain reported NewsNation affiliate WPRI. The state is 10 inches below normal in terms of rainfall this year, prompting the U.S. Drought Monitor to keep the state in the “extreme drought” category.
Toppled trees snarled traffic in parts of Massachusetts, including in Boston, where a large tree blocked the exit ramp from busy Storrow Drive to Massachusetts General Hospital. State Police said on Twitter that the ramp would be closed for an “extended period of time” while a contractor was called in to remove the tree.
Fire officials in Plympton, Massachusetts, said firefighters responded to calls for trees and wires down or on fire. In one case, a tree landed on a car with adults and children in it, the fire department said on Twitter. No injuries were reported.
In Maine, gusts approaching 50 mph knocked out power for more than 40,000 homes and businesses, officials said.
The wind gusted around 40 mph or higher in Bangor, Portland and Bar Harbor on Wednesday morning, with stronger gusts on the way, the National Weather Service reported.
The weather service issued wind advisories for much of New England through Wednesday morning, but the system was expected to pass through by midafternoon.
NewsNation affiliate WPRI and The Associated Press contributed to this report.