A stretch of powerful thunderstorms rolled through western and southern Maine on Sunday afternoon, leaving hundreds of Central Maine Power customers without electricity for the second day in a row.

The storms, the product of cold air aloft and increasing humidity levels, were expected to continue through the evening hours.

But Chris Legro, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said Sunday that the rough stretch of weather should be over by midnight, paving the path to a much sunnier and warmer holiday week ahead.

Monday in Portland should be sunny and warm with temperatures reaching into the mid-70s. The rest of the week, including July Fourth, is going to bring lots of sunshine, but also much warmer weather.

“We are looking at our first stretch of summer weather,” Legro said.

In order to get to the good weather, some Maine residents and visitors had to tolerate violent thunderstorms that as of 5:30 p.m. had knocked out power to nearly 1,000 CMP customers. Some of the hardest-hit communities were Portland, Lisbon, Bethel, Gilead and York, according to CMP’s outage list. Those outages were steadily declining, with 600 reported at 6:15 p.m. and just 112 outages in a seven county region by 9 p.m.

Traffic on the Maine Turnpike was slowed to a crawl around 3 p.m. Sunday as downpours, mixed with hail, made it difficult for some drivers to see.

With humidity levels hanging in the 80 to 90 percent range for most of the day, the stage was set for powerful thunderstorms and lightning.

The Oxford County Sheriff’s Office told News Center Maine that lightning struck an electric fence at 549 Hebron Road in the town of Paris around 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Police said the strike caused a box on the fence to explode, and though smoke entered a building near the fence, no fire was reported.

Legro said several communities reported seeing penny- and pea-sized hailstones caused by the storms.

Sunday was the second consecutive day that violent storms pounded the state. More than 3,000 CMP customers lost power Saturday evening, according to the utility company. Most of the outages were reported in Cumberland County.

Thunderstorms wreaked havoc Saturday evening in the town of Yarmouth. The town’s Fire and Rescue Department posted on its Facebook page several photos of downed trees as well as a utility pole tower box that became unhinged.

The department said it logged 11 calls for service as a result of damage caused by the storms, and several large trees fell on electrical wires. Crews cautioned the public to stay away from downed wires.

A utility pole tower box became unhinged in Yarmouth on Saturday evening. Courtesy of the Yarmouth Fire and Rescue Department

In Westbrook, authorities had to evacuate concertgoers from the Maine Savings Pavilion Saturday evening, asking them to shelter in their vehicles. They were allowed back into the Rock Row venue to listen to the band Shinedown after an hour had passed.

Legro said the weather is looking good for the upcoming week with sunshine in the forecast through Thursday, Independence Day.

However, the heat will return by the end of the week with temperatures in inland areas soaring into the upper 80s. Overnight temperatures will be in the high 60s and low 70s.


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