A powerful storm blew through the region Thursday morning, closing some schools, knocking out power to thousands, ripping boats from their moorings and sinking a sailboat in Newburyport.
Pentucket Regional Middle and High schools and all Triton schools were closed as Byfield and West Newbury were among the communities hit hardest by the high winds and pounding rain.
The storm, which grew in intensity overnight, also forced the closing of several roads because of fallen power lines and downed tree limbs. The storm brought lengthy delays along the MBTA commuter rail line during the morning rush.
Commuter trains on the Newburyport/Rockport lines were suspended early Thursday because of several weather-related incidents but resumed — albeit with delays — just before 8 a.m.
Power outages appeared to reach a plateau about 10 a.m. when more than 220,000 homes and businesses were without power across the state. Of that number, 131,213 were National Grid customers and 90,000 were Eversource customers, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
National Grid reported as many as 38,000 customers without power in Essex County.
The National Weather Service said winds as strong as 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph were possible through 5 p.m. Thursday, potentially resulting in additional power outages.
"At the very least, this will have some impact on power restoration efforts today," a MEMA official stated in an email.
At 9:30 a.m., about 1,480 customers were without power in West Newbury and a nearby area in Haverhill. Most of Plum Island — about 1,300 customers in Newburyport and Newbury — was also without power.
The number of customers without power in Salisbury was double that, with close to 2,600 customers affected, according to National Grid's outage map.
By 2:30 p.m., power returned to most of Plum Island but more than 1,000 people remained without electricity in West Newbury and Salisbury.
It was hoped that Triton schools would only need a two-hour delay, but according to Superintendent Brian Forget, it took longer than expected to restore power in Byfield.
"Stay safe and see you tomorrow," Forget said on the district's Twitter feed Thursday.
Pentucket Regional School District Superintendent Justin Bartholomew said Helen R. Donaghue School in Merrimac experienced a partial power outage Thursday morning, causing all elementary schools to have a two-hour delay. The middle and high schools never opened.
"National Grid contacted us this morning to say that the power is out at the high school and the middle school," Bartholomew said. "We had a partial power outage in Donaghue in Merrimac. Merrimac Electric was able to find that fuse and get that squared away, so they are good to go."
National Grid estimated that power to the middle and high schools would be restored by Thursday night.
"It seemed to make a lot of sense for the elementary schools (to open) as they were in good shape," Bartholomew said.
At the height of the storm, about midnight, a sailboat broke free of its Ring's Island mooring and drifted across to Newburyport, clipping another boat along the way.
It became trapped along the boardwalk's indentation near Waterfront Park, where it repeatedly smashed against the bulkheads. It eventually sank to the bottom, where it will remain until at least today, according to Newburyport Harbormaster Paul Hogg.
Hogg said two other boats broke free of their moorings and ended up drifting to the same embayment. Both boats remained afloat.
"It was bad, especially down by our neck of the woods," Hogg said, adding that the strong northeasterly winds made matters worse.
Seabrook officials had to recover and return a 90-foot party boat that broke off its mooring in Hampton, New Hampshire, and floated into a marshy area in their town. By 2:45 p.m., the boat had been towed back to Hampton and secured, according to people working for the Hampton harbormaster.
In Amesbury, a man driving a pickup truck lost control and slammed into a tree fell into the middle of South Hampton Road. Although the driver was uninjured, the truck was heavily damaged.
In Rowley, Police Chief Scott Dumas said power outages and street closures were reported Wednesday night and continued into Thursday morning.
"Still a few areas without power but not expected to be too long. Daniels/Dodge Road area appeared to be the worst. Folks can look for updates on our Twitter feed," he wrote in an email Thursday morning.
By 3 p.m., all roads had reopened, according to the department's Twitter feed.
The Salem News contributed to this report.
REFER: More storm photos, Pages 2, 3.