BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — A tornado was confirmed by radar in Yarmouth and Harwich Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.
NWS meteorologist Bryce Williams told WBZ NewsRadio that, while preliminary information suggests a tornado likely made contact with the ground, more information was needed to confirm touchdown.
"We are actually sending a survey team out this afternoon to do a damage survey to confirm exactly what happened this morning around 11:45 a.m.," Williams said. "We do have a radar-confirmed tornado, that is based on a rotation signature that we saw on our Doppler radar."
Williams said there were other signs pointing toward a tornado touchdown.
"This storm had what's known as a tornado debris signature—it's basically an indication that we have debris getting lofted up into the air," he said. "It's not just raindrops, it's not just hail. We have basically trees, branches, it could be pieces of houses that get lofted into the air and are detected by our radar, and that all together indicates to us that a tornado likely did touch down in South Yarmouth this morning."
More: MEMA Tornado Safety Tips
The town of Harwich declared a local state of emergency, and requested that Eversource cut off power to the area.
There did not appear to be any injuries resulting from the storm or tornado.
"I can tell you, watching the calls and listening to the calls that were coming in, and the frequency and the types of calls, it was like, wow, this is real, this is no joke," Yarmouth Chief of Police Frank Fredrickson said. "To our surprise, we were able to account for everybody thus far, that nobody's been injured or even killed."
Authorities were still working to assess the extent of the damage. In West Yarmouth, the roof of the Cape Sands Inn was completely blown off and thrown into the woods behind the hotel.
Yarmouth's post office sustained heavy damage.
In Chatham, the Redemption Rock Church posted a photo of their steeple, damaged by the storm—but the church was not deterred.
"A crooked steeple doesn’t stop God”s people from praying! We will have our Tuesday prayer meeting tonight at 7 PM as always," they wrote on their Facebook page.
Heavy winds were reported while the storm passed over the Cape.
"The strongest wind report that we have so far is a 90 mph gust," Williams said. "If there is a tornado that did occur, we do think that a 90 mph wind is definitely reasonable with that. There is a good indication that we did experience a tornado this morning on the south of Cape Cod."
According to MEMA's outage map, more than 50,000 customers were without power as of 7 p.m.
The agency reminded residents to avoid downed power lines and assume they are live, call 911 to report them, call their utility company to report outages, and keep generators outside and away from buildings.
More: MEMA Power Outage Tips
MEMA spokesperson Chris Besse told WBZ NewsRadio the agency's emergency center in Framingham was partially activated.
"Particularly, we know there were strong winds that brought down a lot of trees and power lines," Besse said. "We want people to avoid those power lines, make sure they report them to 911 so those can be taken care of, and obviously make sure to keep kids and pets away from those downed power lines as well."
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito—serving as Acting Governor while Gov. Charlie Baker is attending a mayors' conference in Colorado—asked the public to give space to crews working to restore power.
"The message that we'd like to get out to the visitors as well as to the residents here is to please allow the utilities and the grounds crew to be able to get out there, clear the roads, make them safe, and be able to restore power throughout the grid as soon as possible," Polito said.
Chatham Police said drivers should stay off the roads as several roadways were "impassable," and asked residents to be patient while waiting for workers to restore power.
Massachusetts State Police said they were sending extra patrols to the Cape to assist in the aftermath of the storm.