An intense storm dumped more than 3 inches of rain across parts of southern and midcoast Maine on Thursday while nearly a foot of snow fell across western parts of the state.
The National Weather Service said heavy rain and snow would continue falling overnight into today. Meteorologist Tom Hawley said that by the time the storm winds down, some areas in southern Maine could see more than 7 inches of rain, while some higher elevations in the western mountains will get more than 2 feet of snow.
The weather service issued flood warnings for much of southern and midcoast Maine, with high wind warnings issued for the entire coast.
Central Maine Power said about 7,500 homes and businesses were without power Thursday afternoon, and utility crews were preparing for more outages from the high winds and snow.
At about 6:30 p.m., Gov. John Baldacci issued an emergency order to enable power crews from out of state to come into Maine to help restore electricity service. The declaration also extends the hours Maine crews can work.
“By issuing this order, we will help restore power more quickly and be better prepared for expected additional outages,” the governor said in a prepared statement.
Coastal flooding was expected Thursday night and this morning. The weather interrupted ferry service to some island communities near Mount Desert Island.
In Bangor, police closed Kenduskeag Plaza to parking overnight because of flooding concerns.
Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. had only 14 customers without power Thursday afternoon and all of them were in Deer Isle, Milbridge and Sunset, Bangor Hydro spokeswoman Susan Faloon said Thursday.
Faloon said the utility had extra repair crews on standby in all of its divisions.
“We’re anticipating the best but prepared for the worst,” she said, adding that the utility didn’t expect a surge of outages until late Thursday night and early this morning.
On the coast, the Beal & Bunker ferry service that operates between Northeast Harbor and Cranberry Isles completed only its midday ferry run and mail delivery Thursday, according to company owner David Bunker. He said that because of the continuing bad weather, he expects to make only one run again today instead of the usual three round trips he offers daily in the winter.
“The storm hasn’t even got here yet,” Bunker said Thursday afternoon.
Ferry service to nearby Frenchboro was canceled completely on Thursday while the final run from Bass Harbor to Swan’s Island, at 5:15 p.m., was canceled because of bad weather, according to Sharon Johnson, supervisor at the Maine State Ferry Service terminal in Bass Harbor. She said almost everyone who rode the Swan’s Island ferry earlier in the day knew the final run was going to be canceled and returned on earlier trips.
Ferry staffers have the cell phone numbers of most regular riders in case they need to be notified of a cancellation, she said. “It was much too rough today,” Johnson said. “It is wild out here.”
As for the weather and the potential for canceling ferry runs today, she added, “It doesn’t sound really good.”
The Maine Emergency Management Agency urged Mainers to put safety first as a mixed bag of dangerous weather will continue to affect the state into the weekend.
MEMA, county emergency management agencies, utilities and state response agencies were briefed by the National Weather Service in a conference call Thursday.
Mainers are reminded to:
• Monitor weather forecasts closely for expected conditions in your area.
• Stay clear of flooded roadways. Respect all barricades, and report flooded areas to local officials.
• Use extreme care driving in wintry conditions. Stay off the roads if possible.
• If power goes out, use generators and alternate heat sources safely. Never run a generator in a basement or attached garage. Carbon monoxide poisoning may result.
• Continue to keep roofs clear of snow. Snowfall may be heavy and wet. Make sure heating system vents are clear to prevent carbon monoxide from backing up in the home.
• Protect outside oil tanks from snow and ice falling from the roof. Serious oil spills can result.
• Check on neighbors, family and friends who may need special assistance to clear snow and to weather the storm.
The headwaters areas of major rivers such as the Androscoggin, Saco and Kennebec are getting snow, so flooding on these rivers is not expected. Ice jams remain in areas of Franklin and Piscataquis counties.
Flooding is likely on many small rivers and streams and low-lying areas in central and coastal areas.
The jam on the Kennebec River above Gardiner has weakened and developed a channel through the ice. Though the risk of flooding from this jam is greatly reduced, ice sensors have been placed on the remains of the jam to ensure that further ice movement can be monitored, according to MEMA.
BDN writers Dawn Gagnon, Bill Trotter and Heather Steeves contributed to this report.
Important phone numbers and Web sites:
• Urgent emergency assistance: Dial 911.
• Report power outages: your electrical utility.
• Road conditions: Dial 511 or visit http://www.511maine.gov.
• Emergency shelter locations, if needed, and other referrals: Dial 211.
• Safety and preparedness information and links to weather forecasts: http://www.maineprepares.com.