High winds gusting up to 60 mph lashed Maine overnight into Friday morning, causing widespread outages across the state.
A high wind warning is in effect from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday for much of eastern and Down East Maine, according to the National Weather Service. High winds blowing 25 to 35 mph, with gusts approaching 60 mph, are expected to linger into Friday evening.
In Bangor, wind gusts up to 52 mph have been reported, while in Bar Harbor gusts have reached 58 mph early Friday morning, according to the weather service’s Caribou office.
High winds have brought trees down across the state, creating hazardous traveling conditions.
“We are receiving multiple reports of large trees and power lines across roadways this morning. Driving is not recommended, but if you have to go out be alert for trees in the roads,” the weather service’s Caribou office warned.
As of 6:30 p.m. Friday, Emera Maine reported more than 51,700 people were without power, with the outages clustered in Hancock, Penobscot and Washington counties. As of Saturday at 7:15 a.m., 24,025 Emera customers were without power.
Judy Long, an Emera Maine spokeswoman, said Friday morning that a majority of the company’s crews are focused on repairing downed power lines and addressing outages on the electrical system’s backbone.
She said some outages will linger into the weekend.
On Saturday, Central Maine Power reported more than 73,500 people were without power across its service area, Friday, with the highest outages in Somerset (13,470) Cumberland (9,453), Kennebec (6,253), Lincoln (7,217) and Waldo (5,541) counties. By Saturday, CMP reported 53,000 people without power.
“Unlike the recent Nor’easter which was primarily a coastal event, this wind has caused outages across the CMP service territory,” said Kevin Elwell, director of electric distribution for CMP. “We had prepositioned crews appropriately to be able to address the need for road clearing before dawn.”
CMP warned early Friday afternoon that outages could climb if strong winds persist into the evening. It said that it retained 125 crews to assist 97 of its own as part of the power restoration effort.
Numerous schools either delayed their start times or canceled due to the high winds. Bangor School Superintendent Betsy Webb said in a Friday morning tweet that Bangor schools would be closed due to power outages and road closures.
The University of Maine closed Friday morning and canceled classes until 5 p.m. due to road closures and power outages, according to the University of Maine Police Department. Husson University canceled its Friday classes.
The Halloween storm comes two weeks after a nor’easter lashed the state with heavy rain and winds that gusted as high as 73 mph along the coast. More than 219,000 people were left without power at the storm’s peak on Oct. 17, and outages lingered into the following week.
Despite the heavy outages, that storm was not as severe as the wind storm that hit Maine on Oct. 30, 2017, knocking out power to almost 500,000 people — even more outages than followed the state’s historic ice storm of 1998.