A motorist drives under downed pine trees that are resting on power lines in Freeport on Monday. A strong wind storm has caused widespread power outages. AP WIREPHOTO

A motorist drives under downed pine trees that are resting on power lines in Freeport on Monday. A strong wind storm has caused widespread power outages. AP WIREPHOTO

HARTFORD, Conn. — A severe storm packing hurricane-force wind gusts and soaking rain swept through the Northeast early Monday, knocking out power for nearly 1.5 million homes and businesses and forcing hundreds of schools to close in New England.

Falling trees knocked down power lines across the region, and some utility companies warned customers power could be out for days. Trees also fell onto homes and vehicles, but no serious injuries were reported.

New England got the brunt of the storm, which brought sustained winds of up to 50 mph in spots. A gust of 130 mph was reported at the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire, while winds hit 82 mph in Mashpee on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

The storm left 450,000 New Hampshire residents without power at its peak and produced wind gusts of 78 mph, emergency officials said. Emergency Management Director Perry Plummer said the outage was the state’s fourth largest.

Maine also was hit hard, with 492,000 homes and businesses losing electricity, surpassing the peak number from an infamous 1998 ice storm. The Portland International Jetport recorded a wind gust of 69 mph, and the Amtrak Downeaster service canceled a morning run due to down trees on the tracks.

Republican Maine Gov. Paul LePage issued a state of emergency proclamation, allowing drivers of electrical line repair vehicles to work more hours than federal law allows to speed up power restoration.

In Freeport, Maine, Rachel Graham, her husband and their 2-year-old daughter, Priya, endured the storm in a yurt, where they are staying while building a house on their property. They listened as 20 pine trees on their property snapped and wind lashed the yurt.

“It was really terrifying. You could feel everything and hear everything,” Graham said. “It was a lot of crashes and bangs.”

The storm began making its way up the East Coast on Sunday, the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. That 2012 storm devastated the nation’s most populous areas and was blamed for at least 182 deaths in the U.S. and the Caribbean and more than $71 billion in damage in this country alone.

In the Boston suburb of Brookline, Helene Dunlap said her power went out after she heard a loud “kaboom” around 1:30 a.m. Monday. She went outside hours later to find a large tree had fallen on a neighboring home.

“It really shook the whole place up,” she said. “It was such a dark, stormy night that looking out the window we really couldn’t determine what was going on.”

A tree fell and sheared off the rear of a home in Methuen in northeastern Massachusetts, along the New Hampshire line. The tree crashed into Philip Cole’s bedroom, where he would have been if he hadn’t been called into work Sunday night.

“You opened the door to my bedroom, and there’s no bedroom,” Cole told WBZ-TV. “There’s no floor, there’s no anything really, just a closet and that was it.”

In Glastonbury, Connecticut, downed trees and wires forced schools to close.

“Just high, high, high winds,” said Glastonbury resident Kathleen Buccheri, who lost power. “I saw flashes of light and heard booms. I think it was the transformers.”

She said she stocked up on food and other supplies when she heard the storm was coming.

The Meriden Humane Society in Connecticut put out a call for volunteers to help deal with flooding in its dog kennels. It thanked people who helped dig a trench to drain water from its building.

“Thanks to all of you, our dogs will be sleeping very comfortably and most importantly very dry,” the society wrote on its Facebook page.

Some rivers in New Hampshire overflowed. For a brief period Monday, the Ammonoosuc River flooded, restricting access to the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods.

In Plainfield, Vermont, the Maplefields convenience store had no power, so workers used a propane stove to make coffee.

Republican Vermont Gov. Phil Scott warned residents the storm was not over and said the state was working with the Red Cross to open shelters if needed.

The storm system also caused problems Sunday in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. On the shoreline in Bayonne, New Jersey, a barge washed up after apparently breaking free from its moorings.

In New York, the rush hour got off to a rocky start as service on Metro-North’s Danbury Branch in Connecticut was suspended due to a mudslide and signal power problems. Part of the Long Island Rail Road’s Ronkonkoma Branch was halted because of power lines on the tracks. Unhappy commuters crowded a station.

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