CAPE COD, MA — One of the country’s most popular summer vacation destinations is still dazed after a rare tornado ripped through Tuesday, tearing rooftops from buildings, uprooting trees and cutting power to tens of thousands residents and travelers. No injuries were reported, but more than 45,000 people were without power as of 10 p.m. Officials believe it could take days for power to be fully restored to Cape Cod.
“Information taken from a 3 p.m. county conference call is that this will be a multi-day response to get all of the power on Cape Cod restored as the damage is quite extensive across the region,” Dennis police said in a statement. “There may be regional shelters open at some point, we will keep you posted.”
Weather officials classified the tornado as an EF1, as it whipped up winds of 110 mph. The EF, or Enhanced Fujita scale, ranks tornadoes from 0-6 in terms of severity. The tornado touched down twice, in Yarmouth and Harwich.
The National Weather Service said the tornado and “straight line wind” caused the damage.
In Yarmouth, the tornado blew the roof off the Cape Sands Inn and into The Cove resort nearby, according to David Christian, a firefighter on Cape Cod. Yarmouth police said there was “significant damage” to the inn, as well as tree and electrical damage throughout the community. No injuries were reported, police said.
Widespread damage along Route 28 rendered the road “nearly impassable,” Christian tweeted.
Police across the Cape asked pedestrians and drivers to stay off the roads during cleanup. Officials in Harwich declared a state of emergency and asked Eversource to cut power to the town as emergency crews responded to downed trees and live wires. Harwich police said downed wires turned part of Route 39 into a “parking lot.”
In Dennis, residents were advised not to travel Tuesday night. Police said many roads were impassable due to tree and power line damage, and they did not know when power would be restored.
“We’ve had crews on duty since the start of the storm last night, including line workers, who were responding to power outages,” Eversource Vice President of Electric Field Operations Doug Foley said in a statement. “We prepare for strong storms year-round by designing and hardening our system to withstand severe weather conditions like the fierce winds we experienced yesterday and today. We are actively responding to this storm, and we will continue to shift our crews to assist in the areas where they are needed most.”
The NWS issued a tornado warning for Falmouth, East Falmouth, Vineyard Haven, South Yarmouth, West Yarmouth, Yarmouth Port, East Harwich, South Dennis and Dennis Port. The warning was lifted shortly after 12:30 p.m.
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