Strong winds from tropical storm Arthur hit Down East Maine on Saturday, knocking out power to as many as 19,000 Emera Maine customers, primarily in Washington County.
The utility said it was “all hands on deck Saturday,” dealing with the outages and calls from customers reporting lost power or wondering when electricity service would be restored.
Central Maine Power Co.’s outage numbers jumped around Saturday, and at one point about 6,000 of its customers were without power.
But by late Saturday night, that number was trimmed to about 1,100 customers, with nearly half in Franklin County.
CMP spokeswoman Gail Rice said wind gusts picked up Saturday morning, causing trees and limbs to fall on power lines after the worst effects of the tropical storm had passed.
“We were getting some places up, only to have somewhere else go out,” she said, but added that the utility expected to restore power to most of its customers by late Saturday.
Northern Maine also experienced strong winds and the rain continued there through most of Saturday, hampering Emera Maine’s efforts to restore power.
About 11,000 Emera Maine customers were still without power as of 9 p.m. Saturday, with more than 6,000 of them in Washington County. Another 3,303 lost service in Hancock County; more than 300 had no electricity in Aroostook County; more than 400 customers were off-line in northern Penobscot and Piscataquis counties; and 453 had no electricity in the rest of Penobscot County.
Emera Maine said it had crews out overnight Friday and called in workers from vacations Saturday, but strong winds continued in the morning and the number of outages – as well as calls from customers – climbed.
“Throughout the day we have experienced very high call volume to our customer service center and some customers may have had difficulty reaching us as both external public phone lines and our internal system have been, at times, overwhelmed,” the company said in a statement.
Elsewhere, Arthur combined with a front stalled over Maine to dump 2 to 3 inches of rain in many places.
Clouds broke up in southern Maine by late morning Saturday, but it didn’t clear completely. A drier and cooler air mass moved in, however, making for more comfortable conditions.
Rainfall amounts Friday night into Saturday included 2.9 inches in Cape Elizabeth, 2.8 inches in Falmouth and 2.08 inches in South Portland.
Arthur was downgraded to a post-tropical storm Saturday morning as it moved over Nova Scotia. Winds gusted to about 68 mph over the province, where about 85,000 homes were without power, the Canadian Broadcast Corp reported.
Service on the Nova Star ferry between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, was shut down temporarily because of the storm but resumed Saturday night. The ferry left from Portland at 9 p.m. and is due return from Yarmouth on Sunday morning, company spokesman Dennis Bailey said.
“They got hit pretty hard over there” and the company’s call center was knocked off-line Saturday morning, Bailey said. But he said conditions are expected to be better by the time the ferry gets to Nova Scotia around 7 a.m. Sunday.
By midmorning Saturday in southern Maine, people were resuming outdoor activities. Keith Willett, captain of the Old Orchard Beach Surf Rescue squad, said beachgoers began to show up about 10:30 a.m.
Willett said the surf was slightly stronger than normal and a riptide warning was in effect, but the beach was experiencing nearly normal conditions. The water temperature was 62 degrees, which is average for early July.
Saturday night’s low temperature was expected to drop to about 60 degrees. Sunday is forecast to be partly sunny with highs in the lower 80s.