A man waits for a break in the rain Friday outside a gift shop as the remnants of Tropical Storm Elsa arrive in Portland. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Mainers were being told to prepare for heavy rain and possible flooding with high winds expected Down East as Tropical Storm Elsa hit the Gulf of Maine late Friday morning after dumping rain on the New York City area and places further south.

As of 11 a.m., the storm was centered over eastern Long Island with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. Most of the stronger winds are expected to remain offshore as the storm bears down late Friday on the southwestern tip of Nova Scotia, though the Washington County coastline could get stronger winds than the rest of Maine, according to the National Weather Service.

A high surf advisory has been issued along the entire Maine coast, with a more severe gale warning issued off Washington County. Rain being pushed north by the storm was starting to fall along the coast around noon.

A flash flood watch has been issued by the weather service for most of Maine, essentially for all points between Rumford and Houlton and south to the coast. The Maine Emergency Management Agency said that flooding is not guaranteed but is possible, and urged drivers to use caution.

The weather service is predicting between 2.5 and 3 inches of rain through Saturday morning for coastal and near-coastal areas Down East, from Bangor to Calais and from Bar Harbor to Eastport. North of Bangor, all the way to the New Brunswick and Quebec borders, 1 to 2 inches were expected.

More than 3 inches of rain is expected for the western shore of Penobscot Bay, including the cities of Belfast and Rockland, with 2 inches of rain predicted further south along the coast. Further west into higher elevations, rainfall up to an inch or more was expected.

Versant Power, which sells electricity to residential and commercial customers in eastern and northern Maine, said it was preparing for possible power outages.

“We have ensured line crews are ready to respond to potential damage to the electrical system Friday evening in Hancock and Washington counties, where strong wind gusts are possible,” said Janet Scully, the utility’s storm response manager.

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....