Wareham slammed by possible microburst

The National Weather Service is dispatching a survey team to Wareham to investigate reports of a possible microburst that slammed parts of the town with violent winds and heavy thunderstorms Tuesday night.

“We’re sending a crew down now and then we’ll know more,� said Bill Simpson, meteorologist with the weather service’s Taunton office.

Simpson said the team will try to verify reports of wind gusts of more than 100 miles per hour and that they will know the results by noon today.

The possible microburst started pounding Wareham’s Swift’s Beach, Pinehurst, and Mayflower Ridge communities at 7:30 p.m., said Wareham Fire Captain Matt Rowley.

“It was just a very severe thunderstorm with frequent lightning and extremely strong winds,� he said.

A microburst is a strong rush of wind downward, which spreads out as it reaches the ground, according to the weather service.

Microbursts are typically caused by a clash of air masses, affect an area of 1 to 2½ square miles, and last less than five minutes, experts say.

The crew will confirm a microburst by using radar information, analyzing how trees fell, and checking the size of the damaged area.

Fire officials are waiting for the weather service to determine whether the damaging weather was in fact, a microburst.

“I guess that’s what we’re assuming it was,� Rowley said. “We haven’t received a report from the weather service confirming that that’s what it was.�

The storm snapped trees and telephone poles, some of which smashed into homes, he said.

The severe weather knocked out power to about 1,000 homes, he said.

“It was pretty much held to those areas,� Rowley said. “It was a short duration.�

Firefighters responded to areas hit by the possible microburst and utility crews are on scene now, trying to restore power, he said.

Melissa Werthmann can be reached at melissa.werthmann@globe.com.

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