January 20, 2020
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Tropical storm warning extended to coastal communities in Hancock and Washington counties

Nick McCrea | BDN
Nick McCrea | BDN
Belfast harbormaster Katherine Pickering helps clean up storm-driven debris at the harbor’s edge in this October 2017 file photo. The National Weather Service has issued a tropical storm warning for coastal Hancock and Washington counties, saying high winds could cause damage on shore as Hurricane Dorian passes New England out to sea on Saturday.

Residents of coastal Hancock and Washington counties should expect Hurricane Dorian to generate tropical storm-force winds in their communities by late Saturday that could cause property damage, fallen tree limbs, dangerous driving conditions and scattered power outages, according to government forecasters.

Those residents should be preparing to protect their properties before winds pick up, they said.

The National Weather Service on Friday afternoon updated its projections for how Maine will be affected by the passing hurricane, issuing a tropical storm warning for coastal waters and coastal communities of Hancock and Washington counties. Among the communities likely to be affected are Bar Harbor, Blue Hill, Cherryfield, Eastport, Ellsworth and Machias.

A warning issued earlier Friday applied only to coastal waters off Washington County.

Sustained winds along Maine’s coast as the storm passes offshore to the east of New England and over Nova Scotia now are expected to range at least between 20 to 35 mph with gusts up to 45 mph, the weather service said in its updated forecast. Changes in the storm’s track, size or intensity potentially could produce even stronger winds, in the 39-57 mph range, it added.

Potential impacts from the passing storm include:

— Damage to porches, awnings, carports, sheds and unanchored mobile homes.

— Many large tree limbs broken off. A few trees snapped or uprooted, but with greater numbers in places where tree roots are shallow. Some fences and roadway signs blown over.

— Roads that are impassable from debris, particularly within urban or heavily wooded places. Hazardous driving conditions on bridges and other elevated roadways.

— Scattered power and communications outages.

“Efforts to protect property should now be underway,” the weather service said. “Prepare for limited wind damage [and] act now to complete preparations before the wind becomes hazardous.”

Coastal waters in Hancock County east of Stonington are predicted to be buffeted by winds ranging from 23 to 40 mph with gusts ranging from 46 to 57 mph. Near-shore wave heights between 10 and 15 feet are predicted.

For coastal waters of Washington County, wind speeds are expected to range from 34 to 46 mph with gusts up to 63 mph. Wave heights Down East will be between 11 and 16 feet.

Wave heights out to sea in the Gulf of Maine could reach between 15 and 30 feet on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

The service also said rip currents, some beach erosion and high surf could occur along the Maine and New Hampshire coasts, aggravating high tides on Saturday, which will occur roughly between 6 and 6:30 in the morning and again between 6:30 and 7 that evening.

The storm is projected to still have hurricane-strength winds when it makes a predicted landfall Saturday night near Halifax, Nova Scotia. From there, the weakening storm is expected to continue northeast over the Gulf of St. Lawrence and then Newfoundland before moving out over the north Atlantic Ocean.

As of 2 p.m. Friday, Dorian was approximately 125 miles northeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, moving at 21 mph with sustained winds of 90 mph.

Earlier this week, Dorian was a Category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, with sustained wind speeds of more than 180 mph and gusts exceeding 220 mph, when it struck Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas on Sunday. At least 30 people in the Bahamas were killed by the storm, the Associated Press has reported.


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