June 18, 2018
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The next wave: Acadia park officials urge caution as storm Danny passes

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — Five days after heavy surf triggered by Hurricane Bill killed a 7-year-old girl from New York City and injured others who had gathered to watch ocean waves crash against the park’s rocky shore, Acadia officials met Friday to discuss how to deal with approaching Tropical Storm Danny.

Danny was expected to take a path this weekend similar to Bill’s as it cruised north along the East Coast. The National Weather Service projected Danny would pass by the Gulf of Maine, then over Nova Scotia late Saturday night and Sunday morning, bringing wind and rain to much of Maine throughout Saturday.

“Large swells from Danny are expected to produce dangerous surf conditions and life-threatening rip currents along the U.S. East Coast during the next day or two,” the National Weather Service said Friday.

Clio Axilrod, 7, died Aug. 23 after an especially large wave crashed onshore near Thunder Hole in Acadia. The receding water dragged the child, her father, Peter J. Axilrod, 55, of New York, and Simone Pelletier, 12, of Belfast into the ocean. The three were among at least 13 people who had gathered on a rocky outcropping near Thunder Hole and were struck and injured by the wave.

Peter Axilrod and Pelletier were rescued from the water by the Coast Guard a little more than an hour after the wave struck. Clio Axilrod was unresponsive when she was found more than three hours later in water near Otter Cliffs, about a half-mile south of Thunder Hole.

Stuart West, chief ranger for Acadia, said Friday evening that he had been in contact with the weather service in Caribou to find out what the latest storm might have in store for Acadia, which is in peak tourist season.

He said Danny was not expected to be as powerful as Bill and, because of the forecast of heavy rain for Saturday, was not expected to draw as many people to the shore. Acadia officials have estimated that as many as 10,000 sightseers gathered along the shore in the park Aug. 23, attracted by the combination of sunny weather, high tide and large waves generated by the passing hurricane.

“It sounds like the highest winds [in Acadia] will be about 34 miles per hour,” West said. “It won’t be as dramatic as it was last weekend.”

The ranger said the park could get as much as 5 inches of rain and seas could produce 10-foot-high waves. Last weekend, the waves generated by Bill were estimated to be 12 to 15 feet.

West said that Danny was expected to move past Maine more quickly than Bill did.

“It will pass through the area faster and won’t have enough time to build up [large] waves,” he said.

West said high tides this weekend would be around 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., when there tend to be fewer people in the park. Because Sunday’s weather was expected to be nicer than Saturday’s, he said, Acadia officials on Friday were expecting more visitors in the park Sunday. The park would have staff on call this weekend, he added.

Though Danny may not be as powerful as Bill, West urged people to use caution if they visited Acadia this weekend. People should stay away from the water, he said, and if possible use a telephoto lens to take photographs of the waves.

Danny was being blamed Friday for the disappearance of a 12-year-old boy who was body boarding off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The boy’s mother reported seeing him go underwater and the board washing ashore without him.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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