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Wind advisory and flood warning as power companies respond to Tuesday-Wednesday storm

In this file photo, an electric company crew works to restore power to customers in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.
Matt Rourke
In this file photo, an electric company crew works to restore power to customers in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

The start of the second storm of the year got underway Tuesday afternoon with a mix of snow and rain — expected to change to rain overnight. Officials warned motorists to be careful, as power companies told customers they were preparing for major outages.

"Use caution when traveling and avoid flooded roadways," the Massachusetts Department of Transportation tweeted.

On Tuesday afternoon, the State Police lowered the Mass Pike speed limit to 40 m.p.h. between Wilbraham and the New York line.

The National Weather Service put a flood watch and wind advisory in effect until 1 p.m. Wednesday.

"Motorists should expect slippery road conditions late [Tuesday] afternoon and evening, especially over the higher elevations," the agency said. "Slow down and use caution."

The forecast called for up to three inches of rain and wind gusts up to 50 m.p.h.

This latest storm comes on top of a weekend snowfall that dropped more than a foot on some western Massachusetts communities.

The electric utility Eversource said Tuesday it was gearing up in case there are power outages Tuesday into Wednesday.

Spokesperson Craig Hallstrom said the company has bolstered its ranks to help with potential restoration efforts.

"We've hired approximately 680 line crews — additional line crews, above what we have normally. And we've brought them in from Pennsylvania, Kentucky, the Carolinas, Michigan," Hallstrom said. "So when you have one of these regional events, you tend to have to go pretty far to get crews."

Hallstrom said fixing any damage to power lines could be hampered by the wind.

"When you have high winds — typically over 35 [m.p.h.] — our crews really need to be careful about when they do up in their buckets. But they do a good job," he said. "They know when they can find their window. So they get out, they look for that window, get up, do their work, and come back down."

As of 6 a.m. Wednesday, utilities reported just under 5,000 outages statewide, with fewer than 100 in western Massachusetts.

NEPM's Adam Frenier, Kari Njiiri and Sam Hudzik contributed to this report.

Updated: January 10, 2024 at 6:16 AM EST
This story has been updated to include the most recent number of power outages in Massachusetts.
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