CARIBOU, Maine — As utility crews on Thursday restored power to thousands of Mainers left in the dark by thunderstorms the previous night, the National Weather Service issued more alerts about severe weather moving into the state.
Widely scattered thunderstorms with very heavy winds and rainfall on Wednesday night downed limbs and knocked out power to about 14,000 Mainers from York County to Aroostook.
Classes were canceled at schools in Camden, Rockport and Hope Thursday morning as power remained out in much of that area and the storms reportedly damaged several recreational vehicles, injuring one RV occupant, at the Sennebec Campground in Appleton, according to Knox County Emergency Management Agency Director Ray Sisk. Sisk also said in a news release that lightning likely caused a fire at an island home in Friendship. The Friendship Fire Department responded by boat to put out that fire.
The Knox County communications center handled more than 90 emergency calls, keeping area fire, police, emergency medical services and public works crews busy into the early morning hours, according to Sisk. Knox EMA opened its emergency operations center and monitored the situation overnight, he said.
Minor damage also was reported by lightning strikes and severe weather elsewhere around the state.
In Portland, a fast-moving and severe lightning storm that moved through about 3:45 p.m wreaked havoc, setting off numerous fire alarms throughout the city, keeping the Portland Fire Department busy for several hours, city spokeswoman Nicole Clegg said.
In addition, the fire department’s marine division and an ambulance crew went out to Peaks Island to assist a man who was injured when lightning struck his home, Clegg said. The man’s injuries are not life-threatening and he was taken to the hospital.
Several suspected lightning strikes also were reported to the Portland Dispatch Center.
An estimated 4,000 Central Maine Power customers remained without power at 5 p.m. Thursday, down from a high of more than 7,000. The remaining outages were spread over 10 counties in southern and coastal Maine, with the brunt in Waldo, Knox and York counties.
Maine Public Service Co. crews meanwhile restored power to more than 5,000 customers in central and southern Aroostook County. Only a handful of customers in Bangor Hydro-Electric Co.’s area were still without power Thursday evening after more than 2,000 had service interrupted.
On Thursday afternoon, the NWS Caribou office issued more thunderstorm watches and warnings with the threat of heavy rainfall expected through midnight. Rainfall totals of 1 to 2 inches across northern, eastern and coastal Maine were forecast, with the potential for flash flooding especially across the Houlton and Millinocket region.
Severe thunderstorm watches were issued for much of the rest of the state with the potential for large hail, damaging winds and heavy rain through the late evening.
BDN writers Dawn Gagnon and Ryan McLaughlin contributed to this report.