CARIBOU, Maine — The National Weather Service in Caribou confirmed Tuesday morning that a short-lived tornado touched down near the town of Ludlow just before 2 p.m. on Memorial Day.
The tornado was verified by the weather service damage survey team, which went to the site after a severe storm blew through parts of Aroostook County on Monday, meteorologist Tony Mignone said Tuesday afternoon. The storm prompted multiple weather alerts and warnings from Madawaska to Topsfield.
Mignone confirmed the tornado as an EF-0 on the Enhanced Fujita scale. The scale rates tornadoes on a scale of 0 to 5 with 0 having the lowest estimated wind speeds. A 0 rating means the tornado likely produced wind gusts ranging from 65 to 85 mph.
The meteorologist said the tornado was believed to have been about a mile west of Hemore Road in Ludlow, a route that also runs through neighboring Houlton. It had a minimum wind speed of 70 mph, a maximum wind path of 180 yards and a path length of 200 yards.
In Ludlow, residents reported that telephone poles were knocked down when the tornado whipped through the area.
In other parts of Aroostook County on Tuesday, residents reported hail, felled trees and winds that whipped children’s playthings, garbage cans and lawn ornaments around.
“We did not have any reports of significant damage,” said Mignone. “It was just large amounts of hail and lots of wind that was very strong. Trees were blown over, items that were not tied down such as garbage can lids were blown around, things like that.”
Mignone said there was no reportable damage to any buildings.
Sarah Mitchell, 23, of Houlton was visiting friends in the community on Memorial Day when it began to rain and hail briefly.
“We had just left their house and were driving past Walmart (on Ludlow Road) when it started to rain and hail so heavily that you could hardly see,” she said Tuesday afternoon. “It didn’t last too long and it wasn’t so bad that you had to pull over and stop driving, but it was scary for a few seconds. We seem to have some of these storms every summer, but this came really early.”
Robert Harton of Houlton said he also saw a bit of hail. He said he had intended to plant a few extra flowers at the local cemetery on Monday afternoon, but decided to put it off when the sky grew threatening.
“I didn’t want to see them get damaged,” he said.