Danvers and Peabody police and firefighters also responded. Police detoured westbound traffic onto Walter Road adjacent to the Century House restaurant and eastbound traffic onto Palmer Avenue.
Witnesses described what it was like when the storm hit and the poles came down.
“The power went out in our dealership, and I went out and looked at the weather, and I saw yellow flashes all over the place, so I knew something bad happened,” said Anthony Angrisano of Lynn, a sales consultant at Ira Audi in Peabody.
“Then I saw that pole leaning,” he said, referring to the pole in front of Subway. One of the store’s managers took a walk, and Angrisano said he counted about a half-dozen poles snapped.
Angrisano also saw the pole at Subway topple in the wind.
“It’s unbelievable, I never would have thought wind would bring down all those telephone poles,” Angrisano said. “Especially that quantity of them.”
Angrisano said he saw intense, yellow-orange flashes over the houses as the poles came down. Angrisano also saw some cars drive through the debris field of snapped poles and high-tension wires.
“They were easily putting their life in someone upstairs’ hands,” Angrisano said.
Barbara Stevens, owner of Scrub a Dog, was looking out her second-floor window when she saw a flash of white light and heard the bang of a transformer exploding.
“I was standing in the window when I saw the first explosion,” said Stevens, of Peabody. “Then, when I looked back out, I saw the second one go out.”
Both Rowe and Stevens said it was lucky that they did not have too many pets in the shop when the power was knocked out.
Arthur Francis, a climatologist at Salem State University and a contributor to The Salem News, was in Peabody when the burst of weather moved through with heavy rain and a roar of wind. It’s the kind of clouds that produce thunderstorms in the summer. Such storms are accompanied by strong downdrafts and dramatic swings in barometric pressure. Francis noted that the barometric pressure had swung from 30.5 inches, indicating fair weather, to 28.4 inches, “the lowest we have been for some time.”
Francis said winds were driven by the fast-approaching storm, which did not produce a lot of rain on the North Shore. The wind speed indicator at Salem State University recorded its top gust of 60 mph at 5 a.m.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.