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Maine braces for tropical weather

Fishermen moved boats to shelter from a rare burst of tropical weather along Maine's rugged Down East coast Sunday as a weakening Hurricane Kyle spun past on its way to Canada, threatening a glancing blow equivalent to a classic nor'easter storm without the snow.

A hurricane watch for Maine was discontinued Sunday, but a tropical storm warning remained in effect from Stonington, at the mouth of Penobscot Bay, to Eastport on the Canadian border, the National Hurricane Center said. The Canadian Hurricane Centre issued a hurricane warning for parts of southwestern Nova Scotia, with tropical storm warnings for parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The Category 1 storm's track was expected to bring its center ashore in New Brunswick just west of Saint John late Sunday or early today, but by then it is expected to have less than hurricane strength, said Peter Bowyer of the hurricane center in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

There were no immediate plans for evacuations in Maine, although residents were warned of potential power outages and interruptions in ferry services to islands.

Heavy rain lashed the state Sunday for a third straight day. As much as 5.5 inches had already fallen along coastal areas. Flood watches were in effect for the southern two-thirds of New Hampshire and southern Maine through Sunday evening.

Authorities expected wind gusts in Maine to reach up to 60 mph and waves up to 20 feet, said Robert McAleer, Maine Emergency Management Agency director.

Down East residents are accustomed to rough weather, but it most often comes in the winter when nor'easters howl along the East Coast. Maine hasn't had anything like a hurricane since Bob was downgraded as it moved into the state in 1991 after causing problems in southern New England.

While residents took precautions, many weren't impressed by Kyle.

“It probably won't be much different than a nor'easter except we don't have to deal with the snow,” said Jesse Davis of Marshfield. He gassed up his vehicles and generator, took in his deck furniture and filled up water jugs, but said that's what he does for any big storm.

“Down East we get storms with 50- to 60-mph winds every winter. Those storms can become ferocious,” said Washington County Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Hinerman. Down East is the rugged, sparsely populated area from about Bar Harbor to the Canadian border.

Many lobstermen moved their boats to sheltered coves, said Dwight Carver, a lobsterman on Beals Island.

“We'll have a lot of snarls, a lot of mess, to take care of when it's done,” Carver said. “It'll take us a few days to straighten things out.”

Kyle's maximum sustained wind was blowing at nearly 75 mph, or just barely hurricane strength. The storm was expected to lose its tropical characteristics late Sunday or early today.

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