Thursday, May 23, 2013
Tropical Storm Irene blew through Maine on Sunday, knocking out power to more than 190,000 customers and causing scattered flash flooding but failing to produce the widespread damage that had been feared.
Kristen Day, left, of Boston feels the powerful winds of Tropical Storm Irene with her family at Ogunquit Beach on Sunday while on vacation.
Jill Brady/Staff Photographer
Joe Fox surveys the damage to his 1997 Ford truck after a tree fell on it Sunday at his home on Vigue Street in Waterville. Fox believes the high wind from Tropical Storm Irene toppled the tree. "I heard a hellacious crash," Fox said. He estimated damage to be about $2,000.
David Leaming/Kennebec Journal
See a picture of the washed-out bridge on Route 27 at Carrabasset Valley.
The punishing hurricane had been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached Maine, but Irene still brought powerful sustained winds and gusts that caused rain-soaked trees and limbs to fall on power lines in widely scattered locations. The wind was expected to continue gusting to 50 mph through the night, the National Weather Service said.
As of Sunday evening, coastal residents had largely been spared the flooding that many had feared. The storm took a westerly track that directed the brunt of its force inland.
"We've seen nor'easters that have been bigger, but this one is still impressive. You get the sea spray in your face. That's what it's all about, a little taste of the sea," Joe Rolland of Kennebunk said as he watched the waves crash against the rocky shore in Kennebunkport, sending spray shooting upward.
Although the rain ended earlier than expected in southern Maine, the Maine Emergency Management Agency issued a reminder that the storm was not over and dangerous conditions could last into today, especially near the coast where the surf could remain high. But the skies are expected to clear by midday today, and the forecast calls for sun with a high near 80.
On Sunday, wind gusts reached up to 52 mph at the Portland International Jetport, according to the National Weather Service in Gray.
As of 9 p.m. Sunday, more than 182,000 Central Maine Power customers had no power, which is more than one-quarter of CMP's 610,000 customers, the utility said. CMP said it could take several days before electrical service is restored to all customers.
Hardest-hit was York County, with 44,545 customers without power, followed closely by Cumberland County at 34,330 and Kennebec County at 29,704.
"Customers should be prepared for some extended outages," said CMP spokesman John Carroll.
Farther north, Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. reported more than 13,200 outages, the bulk of them in Hancock County.
Numerous trees were reported knocked down by the wind, including one that loomed menacingly over Route 302 while caught in power lines in the Windham area.
The storm's precursor, a band of tropical rain that drenched the state Saturday night into Sunday morning, set the stage for trees to fall by softening the ground around the roots.
Rainfall amounts by 5 p.m. in the Portland area were not significant -- just under 2 inches -- said Margaret Curtis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.
But in northern Cumberland County and the mountains of western Maine, rainfall totals were considerably higher. The heaviest rain was in the western part of the state, where meteorologists estimated that 8 to 9 inches had fallen in northern Oxford County. By 5 p.m., Casco had received 3.16 inches of rain, Gorham had just over 2 inches and Denmark 3.25 inches.
Areas in central Maine had rainfall totals in the 2-4 inches range.
Motorists across the state are dealing with washed-out roads and road closures because of downed trees and wires, especially in the Lakes region, Oxford County and western Maine.
Most significantly, Route 27 at Carrabasset Valley, just north of the access road to Sugarloaf Mountain, is closed indefinitely, said state police spokesman Stephen McCausland. "The bridge was affected, and I am assuming it was washed out," he said.
A Stratton resident said the bridge washed out about 5 p.m.
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A surfer on Sebago Lake on Sunday.
Courtesy of James O'Brion