A large swath of northern New England, including parts of Maine, was under a tornado watch Sunday afternoon and evening as powerful thunderstorms moved from west to east.

The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center issued the rare watch, with the highest risk reported in Oxford County and parts of western Cumberland and York counties.

But by late Sunday night, it didn’t appear that any tornadoes had actually touched down in Maine.

Even without tornadoes, though, severe thunder and lightning, coupled with torrential rain, did blow through western and southern Maine.

“(Sunday night’s) severe weather is the most hazardous we’ve forecasted this year,” said Jon Palmer, a meteorologist with the weather service office in Gray. “We haven’t seen a setup like this in a while. This is rare for Maine, certainly.”

Palmer said high humidity in the atmosphere, combined with wind shear, created ideal conditions for violent storms to form.


A tornado watch only means that weather conditions can produce tornadoes, not that one will occur. If the watch had been upgraded to a warning, those in the path would have been advised to seek shelter in the lowest level of a home, such as a basement. That didn’t happen in Maine.

In neighboring New Hampshire, though, multiple tornado warnings were issued by the weather service, including for the Manchester area. It was unclear as of Sunday night whether tornadoes actually touched down.

Parts of Maine already saw heavy rains earlier Sunday, but the more severe weather was forecasted for the afternoon and early evening hours as storms approached from the west. Once the storms moved through Maine on Sunday, drier air was expected to settle Monday.

The storms didn’t appear to cause any widespread damage or power outages in Maine as of Sunday night, but there was a localized outage earlier in the day that was unrelated to the weather.

More than 6,000 customers in Brunswick and another 1,700 in nearby Harpswell lost power late Sunday morning, according to Central Maine Power, which said the outage was caused when an osprey nest came into contact with equipment on a transmission line in Brunswick.

“Our crews are bringing in specialized equipment to make the necessary repairs, and are working on switching circuits to restore some customers,” CMP said in a statement.

Power for those customers wasn’t restored until 8 p.m. Sunday.

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