Strong winds knock down trees and utility lines statewide

Posted Dec. 21, 2012, at 5:46 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 22, 2012, at 4:52 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Strong winds and cold rain brought trees down across utility lines Friday evening, knocking out power to more than 45,000 electricity customers across the state.

Law enforcement and emergency responders were dealing with wind-related problems “everywhere,” according to a Penobscot County Regional Communications Center dispatcher.

“Brewer, Holden, Eddington, Alton — that is where a lot of them are being reported,” the dispatcher said at 6:45 p.m.

Greenpoint Road in Brewer was closed to traffic Friday evening because of a downed utility line or exploded transformer, he said, adding downed trees have blocked roadways and taken down utility lines all over Penobscot County. Brewer residents called to say that Brewer High School and most of Wilson Street were without power for a time on Friday, with power returning to the high school around 7 p.m.

Waldo County experienced similar reports.

“Trees are falling down all over the place,” said a dispatcher with Waldo County Regional Communications Center.

By 4 p.m. Saturday, power was restored to all but 943 Bangor Hydro Electric Co. customers, and at 5 p.m., 1,903 Central Maine Power Co. customers were still without electricity.

Much of the state was put under a wind advisory Friday afternoon by the National Weather Service in Gray, and a high-wind warning for southern Penobscot County stretching over to coastal Washington County was posted in the early evening.

The wind, “with gusts up to 65 mph towards the coast,” are expected to last until 1 a.m. Saturday, the warning states.

The entire coast also is under a winter storm warning, according to the weather service website.

CMP had a total of 33,827 customers without power as of 6:25 p.m. Friday, led by Cumberland County with 13,591 outages and York County with 6,478. By 9:50 p.m., CMP’s outages were down to 20,700.

Bangor Hydro had 1,588 reported outages at 4 p.m., but that number grew to 20,726 by 9:03 p.m.

“Small, scattered outages have taken place throughout the day, with numbers increasing this afternoon as the winds begin to pick up,” said a Bangor Hydro outage statement posted at 4 p.m. Friday. “Crews have been gearing up for the storm today and watching the weather forecast closely. Customers have reported fallen power lines in several areas.”

Bangor Hydro expects more outages as the high winds move through their coverage area.

“Crews will work to restore power to as many customers as possible tonight, but as winds increase additional outages are expected and some will likely be without power tonight,” the statement says.

The strong winds and heavy rain Friday afternoon blew down trees all over Waldo County, causing at least one road to be closed and public officials to urge people to stay off the roads.

Route 141 near Upper Mason Pond in Belfast was blocked by fallen trees at about 4:30 p.m. but reopened soon after CMP crews arrived at the scene, according to a Belfast Police Department official.

Police agencies around the county were responding to reports of fallen trees, and Dale Rowley, Waldo County Emergency Management Agency director, issued drivers a safety suggestion.

“If you can stay home, I would,” he said. “If the temperature starts dropping, the roads will be icy.”

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