March 02. 2017 11:49AM

High winds knock out power to thousands across NH

New Hampshire Union Leader

A fallen tree blocks Addison Road in Goffstown Thursday afternoon. High winds downed trees and knocked out power across New Hampshire Thursday. (DOUG ALDEN/UNION LEADER)

Pelham police said a tree fell on Dutton Road and went through the windshield of a Pelham man's 2016 Subaru Outback as he drove south on the road. The driver, 32-year-old Andrew Manson, was not injured, and "extremely lucky," police said. (COURTESY PELHAM POLICE)

Another view of the tree branch that went through a driver's windshield in Pelham (COURTESY PELHAM POLICE)

Gusting wind toppled trees throughout New Hampshire on Thursday, knocking out power for thousands as utilities scrambled to restore it.

The wind was strong enough to snap trees several feet in diameter and send them crashing onto power lines, blocking roadways for hours until crews were able to clean up the debris.

Eversource, the state’s largest utility, reported more than 24,100 customers without power when the outages peaked around noon Thursday.

"When the winds pick up like this, they cause a lot of damage to the system," Eversource spokesman Kait­lyn Woods said. "Once we hit that peak we started to go down from there, but we have seen additional scattered outages across the state since then."

In Pelham, police said a tree fell on Dutton Road and went through the windshield of 32-year-old Andrew Manson just before 9 a.m. He was not injured.

The Pelham man was "extremely lucky," police said, considering that the branch smashed the driver’s side windshield of his 2016 Subaru outback as he drove south on the road.

"Dutton Road was down to one lane for approximately an hour-and-a-half as Liberty Utilities took care of wires that were low-hanging as a result of the tree coming down," police said in a news release.

At 12:15 p.m., utility crews had to shore up a leaning pole in the center of Pelham at the intersection of Main Street and Common Street. Main Street was down to one lane as Liberty Utilities installed a new guidewire.

Mark Bishop of Goffstown said he and his wife were sitting on their back deck around 10 a.m. when they heard branches high above creaking in the wind. A few minutes later, Bishop said he was back inside and heard a loud crack as a 50-foot evergreen crashed down in his back yard.

"We just heard some cracking and I could see some branches start to go just out of the corner of my eye," Bishop said. "The windshear sounded like a freight train."

The tree, which was about 18 inches at the base, took out a section of a new fence along his property line and another fence surrounding his in-ground pool.

"We won’t know the damage until the tree‘s off and the (pool) cover comes off," Bishop said.

To the south, Addisson Road in Goffstown remained closed for hours after a 75-foot tree snapped about 10 feet from its base.

Gusts over 50 mph were reported in Gilford and Meredith.

By 7:30 p.m., the number of outages around the state was about 4,000.

Among the communities that still had many folks in the dark were Weare (422), Peterborough (275), Greenfield (218), Mason (192) Lyndeborough (178), Winchester (128) and Atkinson (67).

Woods said the weather could have been worse.

"Fortunately there wasn’t that heavy, wet snow in addition to the high winds," she said.