Luke Shaeffer, 12, wades back to the beach after inspecting the surf off Jacksonville Beach on Monday morning in Jacksonville, Florida. Credit: Bob Self / The Florida Times-Union via AP

A tropical storm blowing up the East Coast expected to buffet Maine with high winds and rain Tuesday night into Wednesday morning continues to swing to the western side of northern Maine.

The National Weather Service has placed most of the state under a tropical storm watch, while a tropical storm warning is in place for the immediate coast and in western Maine along the New Hampshire border. The weather service office in Caribou, however,  tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that Tropical storm Isaias is “expected to track west of the area resulting in most of the rainfall and the higher wind gusts in the west.

“A band of rain will lift north across the Downeast region late this evening then through the north after midnight,” the tweet continued.

Isaias hit the Carolinas Tuesday morning with the rest of the Eastern Seaboard in its crosshairs. The storm was expected to arrive in Maine about 8 p.m. Tuesday before clearing the state early Wednesday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The Caribou office tweet was reinforcing the idea, expressed earlier in the day, that northern Maine will be spared the brunt of the storm, with current projections showing Isaias blowing over eastern New York, Vermont and New Hampshire as it moves toward Canada.

Still, the Isaias will bring heavy rain at times and gusty winds up and down the state. Those winds are forecast to blow 20 to 30 mph and gust up to 45 mph across much of inland Maine, according to the National Weather Service office in Caribou. Winds could reach speeds as much as 39 to 57 mph.

Along the coast, those winds are expected to roll through at 25 to 35 mph and gust up to 50 mph, though sustained winds could range from 39 to 57 mph, the weather service reports.

City workers in Portland were helping protesting homeless people and activists camped out around City Hall prepare shelters for the coming storm, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Maine’s two largest electric utilities have plans in place for the storm. 

Central Maine Power said it is preparing for what could be thousands of outages and has 180 contracted lineworkers ready to help, including 80 from New Brunswick. Versant Power, formerly Emera Maine, said it will have extra crews on standby Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning to deal with downed trees or branches and other damage.

CMP said it is working under coronavirus protocols including social distancing for field employees and contractors, allowing only one employee per vehicle and wearing masks.

Rainfall is expected to peak about an inch over most of Maine, according to a weather service advisory. The flood risk is currently highest in the western mountains, where a flash flood warning is in effect.

By Wednesday, the weather will begin to clear, with sunny weather forecast to linger into the weekend.

BDN writer Lori Valigra contributed to this report.