BAR HARBOR, Maine (AP) — Atlantic Storm Lee made landfall Saturday with near hurricane force, bringing destructive winds, rough waves and…
BAR HARBOR, Maine (AP) — Atlantic Storm Lee made landfall Saturday with near hurricane force, bringing destructive winds, rough surf and torrential rain to New England and Canada’s Maritimes. But authorities withdrew some warnings for the region on Saturday evening.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center ended its tropical storm warning for coastal Maine, while Environment Canada ended its tropical storm warning for New Brunswick.
A person was killed Saturday in Maine when a tree branch fell on their vehicle. The post-tropical cyclone also knocked out power to tens of thousands of customers.
The hurricane center reported Saturday evening that the storm was about 105 miles (170 kilometers) west of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and about 80 miles (125 kilometers) east of Eastport , in Maine. The maximum sustained wind speed had fallen to 60 mph (95 km/h).
The storm was moving at about 14 mph (22 km/h) and was expected to track northeast in the coming days, carrying the weather system across the Canadian Maritimes. Rainfall is expected to reach an additional 25 millimeters or less in parts of eastern Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the U.S. Storm Center said.
A tropical storm warning remained in effect for parts of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and the Magdalen Islands.
Earlier Saturday, in Bar Harbor, Maine, the tourist gateway to Acadia National Park, a whale-watching vessel broke free from its mooring and crashed ashore. Officials worked to offload 1,800 gallons (6,813 liters) of diesel fuel to prevent it from spilling into the ocean.
Lee flooded Nova Scotia’s coastal roads and knocked ferries out of service while stoking anxiety in a region still reeling from this summer’s wildfires and severe flooding. The province’s largest airport, Halifax Stanfield International Airport, has canceled all flights.
“People are exhausted,” said Halifax City Councilor Pam Lovelace. “It’s so much in such a short time.”
Hurricane-force winds extended up to 140 miles (220 kilometers) from the center of Lee, with tropical storm-force winds extending up to 320 miles (515 kilometers), enough to cover all of Maine and a much of the Canadian Maritimes.
The storm was large and violent enough to cause power outages several hundred miles from its center. As of midday Saturday, 11% of electricity customers in Maine were without power, along with 27% in Nova Scotia, 8% in New Brunswick and 3% in Prince Edward Island.
Storm surges of up to 3 feet were expected along coastal areas, accompanied by large and destructive waves, the hurricane center said. Up to 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) of rain was forecast in parts of eastern Maine and New Brunswick through Saturday evening, with a risk of local flooding.
A 51-year-old motorist in Searsport, Maine, died after a large tree branch fell on his vehicle Saturday on U.S. Highway 1 during a period of high winds, the first fatality attributed to the storm.
The tree branch brought down live power lines and utility workers had to turn off the power before the man could be evicted, Police Chief Brian Lunt said. The unidentified man later died at a hospital, Lunt said.
The storm bypassed some of the most waterlogged areas of Massachusetts that experienced severe flash flooding days earlier, when fast-moving waters swept away roads, caused sinkholes, damaged homes and inundated vehicles.
In eastern Maine, winds calmed enough late Saturday afternoon that utility workers could begin using bucket trucks to make repairs. Central Maine Power and Versant Power had hundreds of workers, including out-of-state crews, helping with this effort.
“At this point, the storm looks like a nor’easter,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Sarah Thunberg, referring to the fall and winter storms that often ravage the region and are so named because their winds blow from the northeast. They generally have a much wider wind field than tropical systems, with winds remaining closer to the center of a storm.
The entire region experienced a particularly wet summer, ranking second in number of rainy days in Portland, Maine — and Lee’s high winds toppled stressed trees from Maine’s rain-soaked ground , the most forested state in the country.
Cruise ships found shelter in berths in Portland, Maine, while lobstermen from Bar Harbor and elsewhere hauled their traps from the water and hauled their boats inland.
Billy Bob Faulkingham, Republican leader of the Maine Legislature, and another lobsterman survived after their boat overturned while carrying traps ahead of Friday’s storm, officials said.
The boat’s emergency locator beacon alerted authorities and the two men clung to the hull until help arrived, Winter Harbor Police Chief Danny Mitchell said. The 42-foot (12.8-meter) boat sank.
“They are very lucky to be alive,” Mitchell said.
Forecasters urged residents to stay home, but many still ventured out.
Betsy Follansbee and her husband, Fred, ran to Higgins Beach in Scarborough, Maine, to watch surfers — some wearing helmets — paddle out to catch waves as high as 12 feet. These were the biggest waves Follansbee had seen in her 10 years living there, she said.
“We’re impressed that they’re bold enough to try,” Follansbee said.
On Maine’s Bailey Island, a thin spit jutting out into the Gulf of Maine, Ren Renton watched the ocean churn. “He comes and goes and takes what he wants, but I hope not too much,” she said.
Lee shares some characteristics with Superstorm Sandy of 2012. Both storms were once powerful hurricanes that became post-tropical cyclones – cyclonic storms that lost most of their tropical characteristics – before making landfall. Lee was not expected to be as destructive as Sandy, which caused billions of dollars in damage and was blamed for dozens of deaths in New York and New Jersey.
Nor was Lee as bad as the remnants of Hurricane Fiona, which a year ago swept homes into the ocean in eastern Canada, knocked out power to most of two provinces and swept a woman into the sea, said Canadian meteorologist Jill Maepea.
Destructive hurricanes are relatively rare in the far north. The Great New England Hurricane of 1938 brought gusts up to 300 km/h and sustained winds of 195 km/h to Blue Hill Observatory in Massachusetts. There hasn’t been a storm this powerful in recent years.
Sharp reported from Portland, Maine. Associated Press journalists Robert Bumsted in Cape Elizabeth, Maine; Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine; Michael Casey in Boston; Rio Yamat in Las Vegas; Mark Thiessen in Anchorage, Alaska; Rob Gillies in Toronto; and Kathy McCormack in Concord, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.
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