A tornado touched down in rural Oxford County on Saturday afternoon, uprooting trees and damaging at least one building before dissipating near Sebago Lake, according to the National Weather Service.

Maine’s first confirmed tornado in more than three years developed near or over Barker Pond in Hiram just after 3:30 p.m. on Saturday as a severe thunderstorm rolled through the area. The tornado then traveled for roughly 5 miles, continuing northeast as it crossed Browns Pond before dissipating over Peabody Pond near the town of Sebago.

Along the way, the twister uprooted or snapped numerous trees, tore a metal roof off of a building and was caught on video in several locations, according to a statement issued Saturday night by the National Weather Service in Gray.

“Eyewitnesses described spray from the pond as the tornadic winds reached the western shore of Peabody Pond,” reads the weather service statement. “The tornado dissipated over the pond with no damage witnessed further downstream. The mix of uprooted and snapped softwood trees along with a few uprooted hardwood trees support a maximum wind speed of 80 mph.”

That wind speed places the tornado as an EF0, which is the lowest category on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with wind speeds of 65 to 85 mph. The most intensive tornadoes, classified as EF5, have wind speeds of more than 200 mph.

Several videos shared with the weather service or local television stations appear to show a waterspout swirling above Barker Pond near Hiram. Investigators quickly headed to the area and were able to confirm the tornado.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for northwestern Cumberland and southern Oxford counties from about 3:45 to 4:15 p.m. on Saturday as a storm cell moved through the area. The alert said a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was located near Naples at 3:43 p.m. and was moving northeast at 25 mph. Other communities in the storm path included Sebago, Harrison and Otisfield.

By 4:15 p.m., meteorologist Derek Schroeter said “the immediate threat has dissipated” as the storm quickly weakened. Central Maine Power was reporting several dozen customers in Cumberland and Oxford counties were still without power on Saturday evening.

The last confirmed tornadoes in Maine occurred on July 1, 2017. Five separate tornadoes touched down in the Lakes Region over a span of roughly four hours, topping or snapping trees and causing damage to buildings and vehicles. The last tornado warning issued for parts of Maine happened a year later on July 1, 2018.

The National Weather Service forecast suggested that conditions would settle down Saturday evening. Dense fog was once again expected to blanket some coastal areas Saturday night and Sunday morning, severely limiting visibility on the roads and on the water.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.