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Storm brings strong winds and rain to Boston, New England

August 28, 2011 | 10:17 am

Rhode Island damage 
Boston authorities on Sunday shut down the city's public transportation system at 8 a.m. as gusts of winds and sheets of rain struck New England, reminding residents that the force of the former Hurricane Irene, now downgraded to a tropical storm, could still be felt.

Across the city and region, the day was decidedly not business as usual. Well-known tourist sites including the Museum of Science, Old North Church and Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Mass., were closed. Streets were largely empty of pedestrians and cars.



Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick had urged people to remain in their homes Sunday. Power outages affecting about 100,000 customers were reported by local utilityr companies by late morning and National Weather Service officials issued flood warnings for several counties in the path of the storm.

PHOTOS: In the path of Irene

Peak winds, forecast as high as 50 mph or higher, were not expected until late afternoon. A day earlier, forecasters had predicted winds higher than 60 mph by that time, with gusts even higher.

Still, emergency measures were in place in much of the region, particularly low-lying coastal areas where authorities closed beaches and roads. In Westport churning surf had broken up sidewalks as wind steadily increased.

On some college campuses officials changed the move-in schedule for students about to start the fall semester. At College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, about 40 miles west of Boston and more directly in the path of the storm, returning students were told to wait until Monday to come back to school. Incoming freshman, who had moved in Saturday, were under "shelter in place" instructions starting at 7 a.m. Sunday.

Harvard College opened its dormitories on Thursday, two days early, to avoid delays caused by the weather. The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper, reported contingency plans were in place.


Hurricane Irene snarls New York highways

Hurricane Irene dowgraded to tropical storm 

Mid-Atlantic residents say it could have been worse

-- Megan Garvey in Boston

Photo: A large tree lies broken against a house in Providence, R.I. Credit: Stew Milne / Associated Press