Wind buffets Maine, Mt. Washington rangers brace for avalanches

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PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine is getting walloped with strong wind gusts that have caused choppy seas and knocked out power for more than 10,000 homes and businesses.

Jim Mansfield of the National Weather Service says the winds have gusted to 46 mph Thursday in Portland, and in Nashua, N.H. That’s enough to topple trees and knock down limbs, according to The Associated Press.

Central Maine Power says it has 13,000 customers without power. The hardest-hit counties are York, with 4,900 outages, and Cumberland, with 3,600 outages.

The forecast calls for winds of 15 to 30 mph — and higher gusts — on Thursday. He says things should begin to calm down Thursday night but gusts could persist Friday.

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Meanwhile, the U.S. Forest Service issued a warning for extreme avalanche danger in Mount Washington’s Tuckerman Ravine area, a popular destination for spring skiing and climbing.

The mountain recieved 2 feet of snow overnight Wednesday and winds at the highest elevations were gusting to more than 100 mph, according to a Forest Service press release

“Although the rating will most likely go down from “Extreme”  to “High” for Friday and perhaps further by the weekend, the Forest Service has significant concerns about what potential may still exist by Saturday,” the release stated . “Anticipate an elevated avalanche danger for the weekend.”

Of the 5-scale danger system “extreme” is the highest rating for avalanche conditions and means that widespread natural or human-triggered avalanches are certain to occur. The warning also comes with the suggestion that travel in avalanche-prone terrain be avoided.

Visitors to the White Mountains were also being warned to be prepared for 2 feet of fresh snow in the higher mountains, according to the Forest Service release.

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