As a weakened post-tropical cyclone Lee was spinning eastward away from the Maine coast Saturday evening, power outages and heavy rainfall appeared to be the two main things left behind in its wake.
More than 85,000 Mainers were without electricity at around 5:30 p.m., according to Central Maine Power and Versant. Most of Washington County and parts of eastern coastal Hancock County had received between 1 ½ and 3 inches of rain — with more rain still to come for all of eastern Maine.
National Weather Service flood watches remained in effect for eastern Aroostook, central Penobscot and most of Hancock and Washington counties, as did a flash flood warning from Gouldsboro east to Whitneyville that was due to expire at 9 p.m. Saturday. Wind gusts between 20 and 30 mph had been felt throughout most of eastern Maine, with some places such as Bangor, Bar Harbor, Caribou and Greenville getting gusts of 45 or 50 mph.
The less-dire flood watches are expected to expire Sunday morning as the trailing edge of the large storm moves toward Newfoundland.
“Hurricane Lee is expected to produce heavy rainfall through tonight,” the weather service said. “Locally heavy rainfall of up to one inch per hour is possible. The ground is already saturated due to previous rainfall, so any additional rain could become runoff, causing urban and small stream flooding.”
Aside from downed tree limbs throughout the state, there were few reports earlier Saturday of flooding or other damage, though some Mainers did have flooded basements.
The Waldo County Sheriff’s Office said a 50-year-old man has died after a tree fell on his vehicle while he was driving on Route 1 in Searsport just before 9 a.m. Saturday.
Also among the reports were a tree that fell and crushed a car in Rockland and a Bar Harbor tour boat broke free and washed up against the rocky shoreline, though information about the extent of damage to the boat was unavailable Saturday.
As of 5 p.m. Saturday, Lee was considered to be a post-tropical storm with its center positioned over the Digby Peninsula in Nova Scotia, about 50 miles southeast of Lubec. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, below the 74-mph threshold required to be considered a category 1 hurricane.
There had been questions this week about the projected track of Lee, such as whether it might make landfall in Maine and whether it would still retain its hurricane status when it did so. But as the storm moved north it tracked farther east, making landfall in southwest Nova Scotia, and weakened somewhat. It was still considered a hurricane in the wee hours of Saturday morning, but by the time most Mainers woke up, it had degraded to a post-tropical cyclone.
In Eastport, the power was out for much of the day and people holed up in their homes to escape the weather, though some ventured out to get a view of the wind and rain along the city’s waterfront.
In Maine’s midcoast, wind speeds hovered around 30 mph throughout the day but, as was the case along the rest of the coastline, there were no reports during the day Saturday of significant flooding.
In Rockland, residents continued about their day on Saturday, going to stores, getting coffee, or watching the effects of the storm. As the wind picked up, Trisha Charan and her two sons, Noah and Nolan, stood outside near Rockland’s harbor bundled up in raincoats. They came from Union, about 20 minutes away, to get coffee and see the waves.
Charan said it was her sons’ first hurricane, and the winds were more aggressive in Rockland than they were in Union, so she wanted her boys to see it.
“Usually we get winter storms, not the fall,” Charan said.
BDN writer Jules Walkup contributed reporting.