Weather expert: More to come
A man's umbrella gets blown around by the wind as he makes his way down Main Street in Concord around 4:30 in the afternoon as a thunderstorm roared through the area Wednesday, July 2, 2014.
(GEOFF FORESTER/ Monitor staff)
The chimney at the Pierce Manse at 14 Horseshoe Pond Lane was hit by lightening on Wednesday July 3, 2014 during a thunderstorm that came though the area, downing power lines/
(GEOFF FORESTER/ Monitor staff)
A storm yesterday brought damaging winds and lightning strikes to central New Hampshire – and it might not be over yet, a National Weather Service meteorologist said.
“We’re all in one very hot and muggy air mass, and when we get that kind of high heat and humidity, we can get a lot of thunderstorms,” Margaret Curtis said yesterday from the NWS forecast office in Maine.
She said the storms were bringing down trees and power lines in Concord and Bow.
“We do have a similar get-up in store” for today, Curtis said
NWS forecasted afternoon showers and thunderstorms today, with the possibility of damaging winds and heavy rain.
In addition to a lightning strike on Sewalls Falls Road yesterday, Concord firefighters responded to a strike at the Pierce Manse on Horseshoe Pond Road, which is the former home of President Franklin Pierce. Concord fire Chief Dan Andrus said there was “heavy damage to a chimney, with the top of it being blown off and bricks being scattered over the roof.”
Joan Woodhead, president of the Pierce Brigade, said she was glad the lightning didn’t cause more damage to the historic building.
“I think we should feel fortunate about it, because most of the things that are here are not replaceable,” she said.
In an email, Andrus said the department received 22 emergency calls in a two-hour period yesterday afternoon, most of which were related to the storm. The department averages less than 20 calls throughout a routine day.
“We are basically responding to call after call, fire alarm activations, lines down, two lightning strikes as far as I know,” Andrus said.
Fallen trees also blocked Mountain Road in Concord and brought down power lines.
Both Unitil and Public Service of New Hampshire had crews responding to downed lines and power outages. In Greater Concord, Unitil spokesman Alec O’Meara reported about 2,800 customers without power at one point during the storm, but that dropped to about 1,600 at 8 p.m. The utility has more than 28,000 customers in the capital region.
O’Meara advised customers to always assume a downed power line is live and dangerous.
“If someone does see downed lines, call customer service or call 911,” he said.
At PSNH, reports of lightning strikes also flowed in late in the afternoon. As many as 8,500 customers were without power at one point, said PSNH spokesman Martin Murray.
“It appears that certainly some of this damage is linked to lightning strikes on equipment,” Murray said. “The outages are fairly widespread and scattered.”
The police and fire departments of most surrounding towns responded to a few weather-related calls but had no substantial problems, local dispatchers said.
Outside of Concord, only Bow reported wires down, leaving 980 without power at the storm’s peak, but most had it restored by 8 p.m., said Lee Kimball, director of emergency management for the town. Roads were closed near Page Road, White Rock Hill Road, Shore View Drive and Allen Road, and an emergency operations center would be running as long as necessary, he said.
Earlier in the day, Boscawen firefighters responded to a report of people stranded on an island in the Merrimack River. Firefighters from Concord and Penacook assisted and found two female swimmers on the riverbank.
“It appeared there was going to be a water rescue, but they were found safe on the bank, and a local police department gave them a ride to their relative,” Boscawen fire Capt. Michael Fisher said.
The pair had been tubing on the river when the storm intensified. “They were scared to be on the river with such a storm,” Fisher said.
Also yesterday, a dispatcher in Webster confirmed a two-alarm fire at 93 New Hampshire Drive. Additional details were not available by press time.
And officials said Dunbarton firefighters responded to a reported lightning strike at 150 Concord Stage Road that set off the building’s fire alarm. Dispatchers said it was a close hit, but no damage was done.
(“Monitor” writers Ann Marie Jakubowski, Megan Doyle and Iain Wilson contributed to this report.)