March Nor’easter Whips Cape and Islands with Rain; Near-Hurricane Force Wind Gusts

The dune at Town Neck Beach in Sandwich takes a pounding at high tide Tuesday

ORLEANS – The Cape and Islands were lashed with snow, rain and near-hurricane force winds during Tuesday’s Nor’easter.

The storm moved into the region in the morning with a quick burst of heavy snow on Cape Cod that quickly turned into a slushy mixture and eventually all rain.

By early afternoon, winds out of the east were howling at 35 to 45 mph.

Gusts above 60 and 70 mph were recorded by early afternoon.

That led to multiple reports of branches and trees falling on power lines and roads across Cape Cod.

At one point, more than 2,000 Eversource customers were without power in Barnstable and hundreds of others were in the dark from Bourne to Orleans.

Crews were working on restoring power throughout the night. One of the biggest outages was early in the storm when 50% of the customers in Plymouth temporarily lost electricity.

Most school districts called off classes, but others did not, including Monomoy Regional, Nauset Regional, Provincetown and the Truro Central School.

At the early afternoon high tide, beaches were getting pounded by wind and waves.

At the rebuilt Town Neck Beach in Sandwich, the new dune was taking a beating, but it appeared it would stay mostly intact. Just behind the beach, the iconic Sandwich Boardwalk was almost completed submerged.

In Dennis, Dr. Botero Rd. held up during the high tide, thanks in part to mounds of sand that have been placed in front of the road that has been threatened for years.

Waves eat away at the toe of the dune at Nauset Beach in Orleans

On the Lower Cape, Pleasant Bay filled up like a big bowl, as water lapped close to the edge of Route 28.

By 3 p.m., the water had breached over the bulkhead at Ryder’s Cove in Chatham, but there was no apparent damage. It was unclear if the recent washover south of the Chatham Light suffered any additional breach.

In Orleans, the ocean carved away at Nauset Beach, where the water continued to get closer to Liam’s Clam Shack and the town parking lot.

The oversand trails were impassable during the storm.

Wind gusts over 70 mph were recorded in Wellfleet and just off-shore.

The National Weather Service in Taunton reviewed the observations from across the state and determined that the only official reporting site that met blizzard criteria was Lawrence.

The definition of a blizzard is that falling and/or blowing snow reduces visibility to below 1/4 mile along with sustained winds or winds that frequently gust to 35 mph or more.

Those conditions must be reported for 3 consecutive hours. That criteria was met for 4 hours and 1 minute in the city. In Boston blizzard criteria were met for 2 hours and 25 minutes.

Snowfall on Cape Cod was minimal before it changed over to rain, with around 2 inches recorded in several locations.

Trees came down during the height of the winds Tuesday afternoon, temporarily closing several roads.

A large tree came down on Route 6A in Barnstable Village, a utility pole snapped in Harwich and tree limbs and wires came down in Falmouth, among other areas.

There were reports of minor flooding on both Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, where Oak Bluffs police had to temporarily close Seaview Avenue and Beach Road due to flooding.

Early morning ferry trips between Hyannis and Nantucket were still cancelled Thursday morning due to weather conditions.

Forecasters warned about the possibility of a flash freeze in the overnight hours into Wednesday morning that could lead to treacherous driving conditions.

By MATT PITTA, MATT MCCARTHY, BRIAN MERCHANT and JUSTIN SAUNDERS, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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