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June 7, 2010

Wild Weather Wanes

Little damage seen from second day of wind, thunderstorms

ANDOVER — Experts said the heavy winds and fast-moving thunderstorms that whipped across the area yesterday for a second consecutive day failed to match the severity of Saturday’s microburst.

The microburst hit Andover and North Andover the hardest, though downed trees, branches and power lines were reported across the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire over the weekend.

According to William Babcock, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, a microburst typically occurs during a thunderstorm when air is forced downward at a high velocity.

Severe winds result once the air reaches the ground and can no longer travel downward, he said.

“That tends to cause the damage,” said Babcock.

When compared to the weather Saturday, yesterday’s storms seemed tame, and area police departments reported no major weather-related incidents.

“Most of the action passed either to your north or to your south,” said Babcock. “I guess the Merrimack Valley got to be a bystander for the most part.”

A tornado watch was lifted at 6:30 last night.

Though there were multiple funnel cloud sightings reported in Connecticut, Babcock said there were no such confirmed reports in Massachusetts or New Hampshire over the weekend.

A funnel cloud must touch down to the ground to become a tornado, and Babcock said that did not occur with any of the funnel cloud reports out of Connecticut.

A tornado watch was also in effect Saturday. But with a front moving in and bringing cooler and dryer air with it, Babcock said such severe conditions aren’t likely to reappear any time soon.

But even without funnel cloud sightings, Babcock said wind damage was reported throughout the region, with wind gusts of 68 mph recorded at Logan International Airport in Boston.

“That just goes to show, it doesn’t take a tornado to cause a lot of problems,” said Babcock.

Power outages in the area peaked at around 7,000 homes on Saturday.

By 7:30 p.m. Sunday, that number was down to just 213 customers in Andover, 19 in North Andover, less than five in Boxford and less than five in Methuen.

On its Web site last night, the New Hampshire Electric Co-Op was reporting less than 10 power outages statewide, all of them in Merrimack County.

There were reports of 129 outages in Derry and only three in Windham, according to the Public Service of New Hampshire Web site.

The forecast for the Merrimack Valley today is for sun and temperatures in the mid 70s.

“Cooler and dryer but still fairly pleasant,” said Babcock.

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