The Block Island Times

Nemo's winds stronger than Hurricane Sandy's

Block Island dodges the worst of the snow
By Stephanie Turaj | Feb 15, 2013
Photo by: Kari Curtis Carrie Todd shovels her way to the door of the Red Bird Liquor Store on Saturday, February 9, a day after the blizzard that brought sleet, ice and snow.

“Once again, we were lucky,” said Town Manager Nancy Dodge after the snowstorm that blew through New England Friday evening and Saturday morning.

Other areas in Rhode Island saw several feet of snow and power outages for days, while the winter storm dumped 38-plus inches on parts of Connecticut in a historic snowfall that, in some parts of New England, beat the blizzard of 1978.

But Block Island escaped the worst of it. Snowfall varied on parts of the island, and there was no official count, but it appeared to be less than a foot. Island wind gusts, however, were strong. The Block Island water tower recorded top gusts of 74 mph Friday evening between 8:35 p.m. and 8:40 p.m. Top sustained wind speeds during the night were 69 mph at about 10:16 p.m.

In comparison, during Hurricane Sandy’s visit on October 30, the island experienced gusts of 70 mph and top sustained wind speeds of 59 mph, according to the Block Island water tower data. (Unofficial reports had gusts up to 117 mph.)

“This was much worse than Sandy from our standpoint,” said Block Island Power Company CEO Cliff McGinnes Sr.

He explained that the high winds, coupled with snow and ice, put a strain on the power lines, eventually causing some of them to break. In addition, snow drifts and unplowed, icy driveways made it difficult for the power company to reach all the affected areas.

Over the weekend, about 105 residents were out of power, and by Tuesday morning all but one home had power restored.

Two power circuits — the West Side circuit and Corn Neck Road circuit — lost power Friday evening around 7 p.m. Corn Neck had power back Saturday morning, and West Side had power restored Saturday around noon, said McGinnes.

“The on and off flickering on the West Side has stopped,” said McGinnes on Tuesday.

The town rescue, fire and police officials were on hand to tackle any emergencies. “We can look at these storms and hope for the best,” said Rescue Squad Captain Bryan Wilson, “but we have to be prepared for the worst.”

Wilson reported just one rescue call, not storm-related, over the weekend. However, EMTs were stationed at the rescue barn all weekend, and the Medical Center was prepared to monitor any critical patients that could not be transported off-island. Wilson said he was concerned about snow drifts making it difficult to reach patients.

“I would like to give kudos to everybody, especially the road crew,” said Wilson.

Mike Shea, road crew chief, said he and his crew were plowing for 25 hours straight Friday through Saturday,  then took a rest and resumed work Sunday. There was little damage to town infrastructure, aside from some wires and telephone poles needing maintenance, said Dodge.

Both planes and the ferry were out of service starting Friday. The ferry resumed service on Sunday, and the planes took to the air again on Tuesday.

Comments (2)
Posted by: John Lehman | Feb 18, 2013 09:03

As we say, "Not for nothin'," but the practice of naming winter storms ( see Nemo, above)  is NOT coming from NOAA but from The Weather Channel. It's not an "official" designation per se, so in years to come, when one looks for records, there should not be surprise when any of these are not to be found.

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Posted by: Martha Ball | Feb 25, 2013 08:16

It's worse than that, John, it began last all even before the Hurricane season was over.  One of the saner guys WPRO radio (it tends to be looney) out of Providence has wondered if it'll somehow morph into "named" storms for insurance purposes, or insurance company exclusions.

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