October 23, 2017
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Witnesses recall terror, destruction during record four-tornado day in Maine

By CBS 13
Updated:
Courtesy | WGME | BDN
Courtesy | WGME | BDN
Jackson Witherill took this photo on Sebago Lake during a tornado warning Saturday afternoon. (Photo courtesy CBS 13)

The National Weather Service confirmed late Sunday night a fourth tornado in western Maine on Saturday.

The service’s Gray office issued seven tornado warnings Saturday, breaking the office’s record for warnings for an entire year. The office’s previous record was six, hit in 2014.

Using the Enhanced Fujita Scale for tornado intensity, weather service officials say there was an EF0 over Sebago Lake at 2:25 p.m., an EF1 over Moose Pond near Bridgton at 4:42 p.m., an EF1 in Denmark at 6:09 p.m. and an EF1 in Bridgton at 6:14 p.m.

An EF0 has winds between 65 and 85 mph, while an EF1 has winds between 86 and 110 mph.

Meteorologists with the weather service say the Bridgton tornado appears to have formed over the southeast portion of Highland Lake, then moved onshore where it snapped and uprooted several trees.

Surveyors say the tornado appears to have briefly lifted before setting back down on the west shore of Long Lake near the Obelazy Lane, where the Bridgton Marina Campground was hit particularly hard.

“It’s the scariest thing, I’ve ever gone through,” said Rachel Coburn, who was in her camper when the tornado hit. “I never experienced anything like this and I don’t want to again ever.”

Surveyors estimate the tornado brought wind speeds as high as 110 mph and dragged along the ground for 2.2 miles.

“It sounded like almost like a propane tank blew up — it was a big bang and then the trees just started going,” said Coburn.

Coburn and her husband were unharmed along with all of the campers and residents.

Despite several homes, cars and campers being destroyed, there was only one minor injury from the tornado.

“We have no explanation for why we came through [unharmed],” said Sheila Berry, who has a home at the campground. “We look around and we see the devastation, and I’m thinking ‘Holy cow, somebody was watching over us.’”

Berry says the home she shares with her husband was left without a scratch, but several large trees landed on their neighbor’s home, forcing them to crawl on their hands and knees to safety.

“I think how lucky we are, look what we came through,” said Berry. “These trailers were flattened, people were crawling out on their hands and knees, trees through their bedrooms. I mean, you don’t experience that here.”

The weather service said the tornado earlier in the day at Sebago Lake stayed mainly over the lake as a waterspout but did make landfall on the western shore, bringing minimal damage — mainly to a flipped pontoon boat and some fencing.


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