Strong winds swept power lines onto a Londonderry school bus with elementary students inside, toppled a tree into a Derry condo and injured a woman inside, and forced utility crews to work into the night Tuesday responding to thousands of power outages across the state.
The National Weather Service reported northwest winds of 20 mph to 30 mph, with gusts up to 55 mph.
The hardest-hit regions included Derry-Nashua, Rochester-Dover, Bedford and Keene, according to Eversource.
The utility had restored power to 97,000 customers by mid-morning Tuesday, including 60,000 customers in fewer than five minutes using smart switches to isolate and reroute power from backup sources.
As of 4 p.m., Eversource reported 15,631 of 537,427 customers across the state (2.9%) were without power.
The company brought in hundreds of line, tree and service workers, including 100 contract crews from Massachusetts, New York and Canada. It tweeted late Tuesday afternoon that it expected power restoration to be complete by midnight Wednesday.
“We’ll continue to shift resources to the hardest-hit areas as our dedicated employees work around-the-clock until every customer has their power back,” Eversource New Hampshire President Joe Purington said in a statement.
A school bus headed down King John Drive in Londonderry had to stop around 8:20 a.m. Tuesday after power lines came down on the front of the bus. Inside the bus were a dozen children headed to Matthew Thornton Elementary, according to police Capt. Patrick Cheetham.
The woman driving the bus stopped immediately and called 911. A crew from Eversource arrived within 20 minutes. It took crews about 45 minutes to remove the wires, the captain said.
“The school bus driver acted appropriately, calmly, professionally, and did a great job keeping the kids calm while they were waiting for those power lines to be taken off,” Cheetham said.
None of the students was injured. They were moved onto another bus and went on to school.
In Derry, a tree crashed through the roof of a two-floor, six-unit condominium building at 107 Franklin St. just after 9:30 a.m.
Firefighters helped residents get out of the building, and one woman was taken to Parkland Medical Center with minor injuries, according to fire officials.
The fallen pine created a large hole in the roof. The snapped-off top half of the tree was resting against the front of the building when firefighters arrived.
“The occupants of Unit 9 were assisted out by cutting and removing parts of the tree,” Derry fire officials said in a statement. “The two residents of Unit 8 will be staying with family or friends until the damage is repaired.”
In Portsmouth, a tree fell onto power lines on Middle Street (Route 1), snapping a series of utility poles and closing the busy road and the intersection of Miller Avenue and Summer Street into Tuesday night.
The wind caused the closures or affected the operation of several ski areas in the North Country, including Cannon Mountain.
At 6:40 a.m. Tuesday, the Mount Washington Observatory recorded a peak wind speed of 129 mph, which, with a temperature of minus 27.2 degrees Fahrenheit, translated into a wind chill of minus 80.1 degrees. The Observatory said the highest recorded wind in March is 180 mph.
Concord firefighters battled a basement fire that damaged a home on East Sugarball Road. It appeared to have been caused by a power surge Monday night.
Crews arrived at a home just after 11 p.m. to find smoke showing from the eaves. Fire officials said downed trees and power lines obstructed access to the single-story house.
Firefighters stretched hoses to reach the building and had the fire contained by 11:32 p.m. No one was injured.