Two people watch as a large wave bears down on the rocky shore along Ocean Drive in Acadia National Park in this 2015 file photo. High surf conditions are expected Saturday along the entire Maine coast as Hurricane Dorian passes by the Gulf of Maine and heads over Nova Scotia. Credit: Bill Trotter | BDN

As Hurricane Dorian moves northeast toward Nova Scotia, weather forecasters are warning about high surf Saturday along the entire Maine coast.

A tropical storm warning was in effect Friday morning for coastal waters along the Washington County shoreline, a higher-level caution than the tropical storm watch that the National Weather Service had issued for the same area on Thursday afternoon.

The federal agency said waves along the Downeast coastline are expected to reach heights between 11 and 16 feet as Dorian passes to the south and east of the Gulf of Maine on Saturday. It predicted wind speeds along Maine’s far eastern coast of 40 mph with gusts of 52 mph.

Forecasters warned that high surf conditions for the entire Maine coast, from New Hampshire to New Brunswick, are expected to create rip currents along the shore and could pose a danger to people standing near or swimming in the water.

“Stay away from rock outcrops along the shoreline exposed to ocean waves as waves can easily sweep people into the cold ocean water,” the National Weather Service said.

In 2009, a large wave churned up by Hurricane Bill swept several visitors to Acadia National Park into the sea near Thunder Hole, and carried three of them out toward open water. One of the three, a young girl from New York City, drowned before she could be rescued by responding Coast Guard personnel.

Ten years before that, a married couple from Charleston was pulled into the sea and drowned by a large wave at Schoodic Point.

As of Friday morning, Dorian had maximum sustained winds of 90 mph and was centered approximately 25 miles out to sea east of Cape Lookout, North Carolina. The storm is expected to move northeast over the next several days, offshore from the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts before passing directly over Nova Scotia late Saturday.

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.

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....