Severe storm pounds Aroostook County

Posted July 23, 2011, at 11:30 a.m.
Last modified July 23, 2011, at 5:05 p.m.

CARIBOU, Maine — A cold front tracking southeast through Central Aroostook County Friday evening brought heavy rains, lightning and damaging winds, causing power outages and some property damage.

As of Saturday morning the hardest hit areas appear to be Caribou and Ashland, where municipal crews were busy cleaning up fallen trees, downed power lines and snapped utility poles.

“It was a very severe thunderstorm,” Paul Fitzsimmons, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Caribou, said Saturday morning. “Caribou was hit with strong straight-line winds; it was not a tornado.”

Fitzsimmons said weather investigators were expected in Ashland to determine exactly what kind of storm hit the area, as it was under a tornado watch Friday evening.

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“We had a warm, unstable air mass and that just set the stage for the storms,” he said. “There was that real potential for them to be severe.”

Wind gusts of up to 75 miles per hour were recorded at the airport in Caribou, Fitzsimmons said, where close an inch of rain fell in under an hour.

The storm passed through around 8 p.m.

The chance remains for another round of severe storms Saturday afternoon as a cold front from Quebec will pass over northern Maine.

“Once that front pushes through we are looking at cooler and drier air for Sunday,” Fitzsimmons said.

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