Police shut down Long Beach Avenue in York as a nor'easter brings high seas and coastal flooding Friday. Credit: Deb Cram | The York Weekly

Mainers along the southern coast have begun seeing high winds and high seas as a strong nor’easter clips the state as it spins up the Atlantic Friday.

The storm conditions caused minor power outages, forced some coastal communities to close roads and — in large part because of worse conditions elsewhere in the northeast — wreaked havoc with airport schedules.

“The National Weather Service has told us to prepare for a coastal storm which will bring some minor coastal flooding, some beach erosion, and we’re anticipating some localized flooding in the usual spots in Camp Ellis,” Saco Fire Chief John Duross told CBS 13.

CBS 13’s Chief Meteorologist Charlie Lopresti wrote that the worst of the storm is being felt in southeastern Massachusetts and it will not be a direct hit on Maine. But he said it could still cause coastal flooding and wind gusts of 40 to 50 miles per hour, enough to cause power outages.

By 9:42 a.m., Central Maine Power Co. showed 822 customers without power, with the vast majority — 716 — in York County, where high winds were starting to arrive. But within a half hour, those outages had been reduced to 230 overall, with 66 in York and 123 in Cumberland County. By 4:12 p.m., the number had risen back up to 3,619 outages, with 2,631 of those in York County and 883 in Cumberland.

By 4:35 p.m., Emera Maine reported 307 outages, with 242 in the Winter Harbor area.

Friday morning, the city of Portland announced that several areas would be closed to traffic between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. because of flooding, including sections of Commercial Street, Somerset Street and Marginal Way, as well as the Portland Pier. The town of Scarborough announced that sections of Pine Point Road and East Grand Avenue were closed to traffic just after 11 a.m.

At the Portland International Jetport, 20 arrivals and 22 departures were listed as canceled Friday, largely reflecting more severe storm conditions at other northeastern airports — like those in New York and Philadelphia — where the flights would have been coming and going from. Likewise, at the Bangor International Airport, 13 flights were canceled Friday.

“Small changes in the track of this storm could have a large impact on wind predictions, and we will continue to watch the weather while we gear up for a safe response,” said Kevin Peterson and Tim Pease, storm managers for Emera Maine, in a joint statement Thursday.

York Police Chief Douglas Bracy, who also serves as the town’s emergency management director, told the Portsmouth Herald that northeasterly winds are not as dangerous to local coastlines as southeasterly and easterly winds.

“We know we’re going to have at least two very big high tides,” he said. “The best case scenario is it’s short in duration and blows from the northeast. Then we’ll get the usual splashover and not a lot of damage.”

Lopresti wrote that the full moon will help bring about three particularly high astronomical high tides, topping 10 feet at each 11:07 a.m. Friday, 11:38 p.m. Friday and 11:57 a.m. Saturday.  The high tide just after 11 a.m. reached 13.1 feet in Portland, making it the 12th highest high tide on record for the city, he wrote.

CBS 13 forecaster Lexie O’Connor warned drivers to watch out for slippery roads as freezing rain and sleet moves through most of inland Maine as the storm rolls through Friday.

Emera storm managers urged members of the public not connected to a public water supply to keep clean water available, make sure non-electric secondary heating systems are in good working order, ensure generators do not back-feed into the electrical system and follow all manufacturers’ guidelines when using alternative heat or electricity sources.

Peterson and Pease also reminded members of the public never to touch downed power lines or trees in contact with them.

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Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.