A powerful storm that spawned at least one tornado swept through the area Tuesday afternoon, leaving in its wake a path of destruction that could ultimately rival some of the state’s worst storms.
Fax Alert meteorologist John Bagioni, of Burlington, said at least one tornado was confirmed in Southbury.
“This is a widespread high impact event with some hail and considerable tree damage,” Bagioni said Tuesday. “It’s going to take a while to get a full assessment.”
A storm of this kind forms when conditions in the atmosphere come together, he said. There was a surge of warm moist air coming in from the south, a cold front approaching from the west and a strong surge jet stream winds crossing over at the same time, he said
“They worked their magic,” he said, adding the storms started in eastern New York.
Naugatuck and Region 16 school districts canceled school on Wednesday. Region 16 has also canceled school for Thursday.
The storm brought down trees and wires throughout the area, closing many streets and knocking out power. Crews are out today working to clear trees and roads and restore power.
As of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, 96 percent of Eversource customers, 2,670, were without power in Beacon Falls. In Naugatuck, 2,886 customers, or 20 percent, didn’t have power. In Prospect, there were 437 customers, or 11 percent, without power.
In Beacon Falls, Beacon Hose Company No.1 reported receiving 65 emergency calls during and after the storm for downed trees and wires, and another 15 or so calls by Wednesday afternoon. No injuries were reported in town.
Beacon Hose Fire Chief Brian DeGeorge said the storm struck hard and fast.
“I was young through Hurricane Gloria. It was nothing, nothing to this,” DeGeorge said. “It was hard and quick. It was over really fast, but it was severe for at least 2, 3 minutes.”
About 45 members were on call during the storm, DeGeorge said, and the firehouse was taking call after call Tuesday night.
At the peak of the storm, the company reported, there were about two dozen roads closed due to down trees and wires. In some cases, DeGeorge said, people were in their cars blocked in by fallen trees and wires.
There were two separate incidents involving wires falling on cars with people inside them during the height of the storm, DeGeorge said. Both occurred on Skokorat Road. He said emergency officials contacted Eversource and eventually both people safely got out of their cars.
Naugatuck police reported responding to 59 fire assist calls regarding tree and power lines down on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said borough crews are working to clean up fallen trees and reopen roads. He said the cleanup effort is being hampered by fallen trees that are entangled with power lines.
Hess said his effort now is geared toward getting Eversource crews to handle the downed wires, but the fact is the storm struck the region hard and resources are stretched out.
Hess referred questions on the number of streets closed — which he said constantly goes down — to Public Works Director James Stewart. A message left with Stewart wasn’t returned as of this post.
Hess said a decision on whether schools will be open on Thursday will be made later today and depend on when power can be restored.
Naugatuck residents can drop off debris from fallen limbs and trees to the Heights, located behind the Naugatuck Police Station on Spring Street, from Thursday to Sunday between 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Prospect Volunteer Fire Department said the town was “bombarded with trees, branches and wires down,” in a Facebook post on Tuesday night.
A message left with Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield seeking additional comment wasn’t returned as of this post.