Strong winds that whipped through Maine overnight left tens of thousands without power early Tuesday.
Nearly 3,200 Emera Maine customers without power just after 4 p.m., down from almost 4,600 two hours earlier. Most of the remaining outages were in northern Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, according to the utility. Scattered outages were reported in Aroostook and Washington counties. Outages in Emera Maine’s service area had peaked at more than 12,000 before noon.
The bulk of the outages were concentrated in southern Maine, where just after 2 p.m., Central Maine Power had reduced the number of outages from 65,000 to about 25,000 in the previous six hours, spokeswoman Gail Rice said. Outages had peaked at about 88,000 in CMP’s service area.
That figure included about 4,100 in Somerset and Franklin counties, 3,900 in Oxford County, and 1,927 in Cumberland County.
“We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress,” Rice said, adding that the numbers were “very fluid.”
Gusty winds have caused outages throughout our service areas, mainly due to trees coming into contact w/ power lines. Crews are responding as quickly & safely as possible in order to restore service to our customers. Please report outages online at https://t.co/0H5tp8dugx. pic.twitter.com/pqPbbalD2U
— Central Maine Power (@cmpco) October 16, 2018
With damage and outages spread over an 11,000-square-mile area, the utility said it had crews working to restore power initially to hospitals, nursing homes, and fire and police stations before working on power lines serving a larger number of customers.
It said continued high winds forecast for Tuesday may affect the progress of restoration or cause new outages. Some lines likely wouldn’t be restored until Wednesday, Rice said.
Andover and Sebago elementary schools, Mountain Valley High School and all Yarmouth schools were closed Tuesday, as well as Chop Point School in Woolwich. Regional School Unit 5, in Freeport, Pownal and Durham, and Georgetown Central School had two-hour delayed openings, as did RSU 72 and School Administrative District 58.
Emera Maine said winds throughout Tuesday caused new outages, and additional crews had been sent to the hardest hit areas. The utility expected to restore service to nearly all customers by 10 p.m., according to a 4 p.m. news release.
Much of northern and eastern Maine were hit by winds blowing between 15 and 30 mph, with gusts exceeding 50 mph in coastal Hancock County and in Aroostook County, according to the National Weather Service in Caribou. The weather service reports winds blew about 40 mph at Bangor International Airport.
Houlton Maine ASOS just reported a wind gust to 51 MPH!#mewx
— NWS Caribou (@NWSCaribou) October 16, 2018
Meanwhile, wind gusts reached 47 mph in Portland, 44 mph near Augusta and Waterville, 47 mph in Jackman, and 40-44 mph along the coast in Wiscasset, Camden and Rockport, according to the National Weather Service in Gray.
Here is a listing of some of the highest wind gust around the forecast area. We had a gust of 46 mph at the office in Gray. pic.twitter.com/LLp5yPbRip
— NWS Gray (@NWSGray) October 16, 2018
The high winds brought down trees and power lines in southern Maine, leading to some roads closures. Gusts continued into the afternoon.
Much colder air is due Wednesday night, with westerly winds becoming gusty again.
BDN writer Beth Brogan contributed to this report.
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