A powerful fall nor’easter blew across Maine on Thursday morning, leaving hundreds of thousands of Mainers in the dark across the state at its height.
As of 3 p.m., Emera Maine and Central Maine Power reported more than 190,000 outages across their service areas, the bulk of them in southern Maine.
On its website, Emera Maine said late Thursday that it would be working through the weekend to restore power to its customers. CMP advised customers in the coastal portion of its service territory in York, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties to prepare for the possibility of multi-day outages.
In Emera Maine’s territory, outages were widespread across coastal Hancock County, where more than 20,000 were without power at the height of the storm. Washington County outages peaked at more than 7,600.
Outages across Penobscot County hit a high of more than 6,700. Emera Maine customers in Aroostook County were largely spared, with just over 800 outages reported by noon Saturday.
Down in Central Maine Power’s service area, the heaviest outages were in Cumberland (59,824), Lincoln (17,623) and York counties (29,000).
Outages peaked before noon Thursday at about 219,000.
The nor’easter moved into Maine in the early morning hours Thursday, and Chris Norcross, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Caribou, said the storm would linger over parts of the state into Thursday evening.
Rainfall over Greater Bangor and eastern Maine is expected to total up to an inch to an inch and a half, Norcross said. Up in Caribou, about half to three quarters of an inch was expected to fall by the time the storm moves out, he said.
Rain and wind will be most severe along the immediate coast from York to Eastport. Wind gusts reached up to 70 mph in Bar Harbor and 73 mph in Stonington, while gusts ranged from 41 to 60 mph throughout Hancock County, according to the weather service’s Caribou office. In Washington County, gusts ranged from 37 to 49 mph.
Gusts reached up to 44 mph in Bangor, 43 mph in Greenville and 48 mph in Frenchville, the weather service office in Caribou reports.
The weather service office in Gray reports that wind gusts reached up to 57 mph in Portland, 48 mph in Wiscasset and 46 mph in York and Rockland.
Mount Desert Island schools canceled classes for Thursday, while a number of schools in Waldo and Hancock counties announced two-hour delays. The University of Maine in Orono canceled classes until noon due to a power outage on campus.
The weather also caused computer network and phone outages early Thursday morning in many hospitals that are part of Northern Light Health, the Brewer-based health care system that includes Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.
Staff were not able to use email or the system’s electronic medical record program, according to Suzanne Spruce, a spokesperson for Northern Light. She said email and other programs were being restored throughout the morning and that the system regularly conducts exercises to prepare for operating offline. For example, health care providers can fill out medical records on paper and send that information to the system when it’s back online.
“We’re confident that our high quality care is continuing uninterrupted,” she said.
Friday will be on the breezy side as the nor’easter moves into the Canadian maritimes, Norcross said. Winds will blow at a sustained 10 to 20 mph, with gusts reaching up to 25 to 30 mph at times, he said.
Leftover showers will linger over northern Maine and the mountains, with the chance for light rain at times south toward Bangor, Norcross said. It will be mostly cloudy Friday, with the cloud cover decreasing into the afternoon, he added.
BDN writer Charles Eichacker contributed to this report.