The powerful midday storm that whipped through southern Maine on Thursday was certainly nasty, but was it a tornado?

A meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray said Friday that, after evaluating the most seriously damaged areas in Boothbay, the answer is no.

A tornado requires both rotational winds and for that spinning column of air to touch down on the ground.

“In Boothbay there was rotational loft in the storm, which is what caught our eye,” said John Jensenius, who does weather warning coordination at the Gray station. “In this case, there was no evidence that there was a tornado on the ground; however, there was significant damage of snapped and uprooted trees.”

The strongest wind and the most damage was centered around the strip of land between the Back River and Knickerbocker Road in Boothbay, Jensenius said, where gusts reached 70 to 90 mph, about 20 mph faster than surrounding areas.

Jensenius said there were many snapped and uprooted trees, and that homeowners came out relatively unscathed, but there was not distinct pattern of damage that would have indicated a tornado.

“There certainly was potential for more damage to homes,” Jensenius said.

Electrical and utility lines weren’t so lucky.

Power outages were severe enough that Brunswick schools canceled classes Friday while utility crews worked to restore power to thousands of customers in the area.

At its peak, the storm knocked out power to as many as 29,700 homes and businesses. Cumberland and Lincoln counties appeared to have suffered the biggest hit.

Just 366 customers remained without power at 1 p.m. Friday, primarily in Lincoln county.

Staff Writer Matt Byrne contributed to this report.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

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