Gusty winds cause power outages

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Greene firefighters douse remaining hot spots from a fire sparked by downed power lines on the lawn in front of Saint Francis Catholic Church on Route 202 in Greene. High winds that kicked up in the morning snapped a large pine tree, taking down the lines. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Record low temperatures expected this weekend.

It was a nightmare scenario: cold temperatures, a fierce wind chill and thousands without power.

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Central Maine Power crews on Friday contended with nearly 30,000 outages throughout the day as temperatures dropped steadily and wind howled nonstop.

By 8 p.m., CMP had whittled the number of outages to around 7,000.

Emergency crews, meanwhile, were kept hopping with a variety of situations related to the wintry weather.

A tree toppled by high winds fell on a powerline in Greene on Friday morning, sparking a fire. Local crews were dispatched to battle the blaze.

Route 202 was closed to all through traffic while firefighters snuffed out the flames and power crews made repairs.

A portion of Middle Street and Fairview Avenue in Farmington was closed Friday morning after strong winds downed a pine tree, which broke the tops of two utility poles and knocked down power lines.

More concerning, however, was the prospect of thousands without heat as cold weather blew into the region.

Gusty winds caused outages all over the state, but CMP officials said the wind wasn’t expected to lead to a mass outage such as the one that followed last week’s wind and rain storm.

Outage information is listed by county, municipality and street and is updated regularly on Central Maine Power’s website at www.cmpco.com/outages/outage information.html.

A cold front moving through the state Friday morning caused the dramatic drop in temperatures and brought the first snow of the season to some northern and mountainous areas. In Rockland, the temperature dropped from 50 to 36 degrees in an hour.

Wind gusts reached 35 mph across much of the state and were higher in some areas. The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of 45 mph in Jackman, 39 mph in Portland and 92 mph on Mount Washington. A wind advisory was in effect until 8 p.m. Friday.

“We’re expecting the winds to continue today,” said Margaret Curtis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “There are a few scattered (power) outages reported. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that trend continue, but this is nowhere near the intensity we saw in the last storm.”

A powerful wind and rain storm on Oct. 29 and 30 toppled trees and utility poles across the state and knocked out power to nearly 500,000 homes and businesses. It took more than a week for the state’s two largest power companies to restore power to all customers.

By early evening Friday, roughly 1,500 CMP customers were without power in Androscoggin County, the bulk of them in Greene. Another 2,000 were reported in the dark in Franklin County while 500 outages were reported in Oxford County shortly after 8 p.m.

“I would suspect this is probably from the wind,” Central Maine Power spokeswoman Gail Rice said, though she didn’t know what specific damage was done to the grid. “We could have a few more scattered outages, but we don’t expect this to be on the same scale as what we had on Oct. 30.”

A “full complement of line workers” are on duty, Rice said, as well as some who are ready to work outside business hours.

The weekend weather will offer little relief: On Saturday, Portland and other areas will struggle to get above freezing, Curtis said.

The record low for Nov. 12 in Portland is 16 degrees, set in 1976. The weather service is predicting it will be 12 degrees in Portland Sunday morning.

“We’ll have to wait until Sunday, but that record is currently up for breaking,” Curtis said.

A portion of Middle Street and Fairview Avenue in Farmington are closed Friday morning after strong winds downed a pine tree and it broke the tops of two utility poles and knocked down power lines, Farmington Fire Rescue Capt. Tim “TD”  Hardy said. The first tree and power line were reported down at 7:30 a.m. on Lake Road in New Vineyard, a Franklin County dispatcher said. Trees and wires were down on Sand Pond Road in Chesterville, Mile Hill Road and Swan Road in New Sharon. A tree fell across Baker Hill Road at about 10:20 a.m. in Strong. (Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal)

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