June 22, 2018
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Severe thunderstorm crosses central Aroostook County; high winds knock out power for thousands in LaGrange, Bangor areas

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

CARIBOU, Maine — A thunderstorm crossing northern Maine stalled over Fort Fairfield late Sunday afternoon, producing 1.25-inch sized hail and dumping up to 2.5 inches of rain.

The National Weather Service Office in Caribou had issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the area, which remained in effect through 7:15 p.m. Sunday.

“Things are beginning to wind down,” Rich Norton, meteorologist intern at the Caribou NWS office said Sunday evening. “The size of the storm is getting smaller.”

Norton said the heavy rains had the potential to cause some flash flooding in the central Aroostook County area, especially in and around Fort Fairfield where some minor flooding had been reported 12 miles west of the town.

“There is also the potential for road washouts and debris from fields to wash into the roads,” he said.

Norton said there were reports of some tree damage in Bridgewater and wind gusts of up to 30 mph in Frenchville.

A strong series of thunderstorms Saturday night also knocked down trees and power lines in a swath of towns across the state.

“At the high, we had not quite 3,000 outages,” Susan Faloon, spokeswoman for Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. said Sunday afternoon. “It wasn’t one big outage, it was a bunch of smaller outages.”

At 3 p.m. Sunday, only 82 customers remained without power from the Saturday storm, she said.

“It’s bounced back and forth a little bit today,” said Faloon.

The company’s website reported outages in Hudson, LaGrange, Greenbush, Greenfield Township, Milo and Lake View Plantation at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
And Central Maine Power Co. reported outages in Somerset, Kennebec, Sagadahoc, Waldo and York counties.

The National Weather Service office in Caribou detected a strong storm in the LaGrange area around 5:30 p.m. and that it had received reports of trees and power lines down, according to meteorologist Chris Norcross.

A second round of thunderstorm winds hit the LaGrange area between 7:45 and 8:15 p.m., Saturday meteorologist Noelle Runyan, who also works out of the Caribou office, said Sunday afternoon.

“Bangor itself only had wind gusts of 30 to 35 miles per hour but up in the LaGrange area there were downbursts and one area firefighter estimated winds of 50 to 60 miles per hour.”

Downbursts are thunderstorm winds, she said.

Kirby Ellis of Ellis Greenhouse & Nursery in Hudson said there was considerable damage on his property. One greenhouse was blown off its foundation and into the road by wind, another had its side ripped off and a third collapsed with pieces of it found 200 yards away.

He said a 20-inch-thick maple tree was snapped off about six feet from the ground, the tops of trees along the road were snapped off and a chimney on his house was blown down by the wind.

“I have lived here for over 30 years and I have never seen anything like this,” he said.

The Penobscot County dispatch center reported it had received reports of trees and lines down and emergency crews were trying to remove fallen items from roads.

There have been no reports of injuries from the storm, according to the dispatch center.

The National Weather Service Office in Gray reported a strong thunderstorm in the Pittsfield/Burnham area around 4 p.m. with quarter-size hail. Meteorologist Margaret Curtis said there were reports of trees and power lines down in that area.

BDN writers Julia Bayly and Nok-Noi Ricker contributed to this report.

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