Cars splash through puddles Christmas Day on Minot Avenue in Auburn during a rainstorm. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Santa delivered a Christmas Day rain storm across the state of Maine beginning Thursday evening that continued into Friday night.

Most of central and western Maine received an inch to an inch-and-a-half by midday Friday, according to the National Weather Service, and another 1 to 3 inches of rain was expected through the evening.

Wind gusts were not as ferocious was initially forecasted. Instead of 50-plus mile per hour wind, gusts were expected in the 35 mph range.

“We’re just not getting as good a mixing as we initially expected,” said Andy Pohl, a forecaster with the National Weather Service. “That’s something of a moving target, anyways.”

National Weather Service Meteorologist Derek Schroeter said Friday afternoon that “much of Maine” remained under a flood watch and the Kennebec River, in particular, was the focus of several warnings. That river was expected to rise above flood stage Friday night, resulting in minor flooding.

Sean Goodwin, director of Kennebec County’s Emergency Management Agency, wrote in an email release that the Kennebec River was expected to rise to at least 15.5 feet by 2 p.m. Saturday, which would also flood Front Street in Hallowell through Sunday. Waterfront Park in Augusta would also be flooded through Sunday afternoon. Temperatures hovered in the mid to high 40s, adding to the snow melt.

The Waterville Fire Department advised residents who live near the Kennebec River to park away from the shoreline. Even before the storm, Augusta officials were concerned about potential flooding from the Kennebec River onto Front Street, so public works closed parking beginning at 9 p.m. Thursday.

“It’s always a risk, and with the high winds there’s potential for wires down and we’ve had a few of them,” Augusta Fire Chief Scott Dunbar said.

Reports of downed trees and power lines picked up Friday afternoon. The Vassalboro Fire Department reported Bog Road, approximately half a mile from Route 201, was blocked due to a downed tree.

“Obviously the road’s blocked off right now because we can’t have traffic go through there, but other than that, knock on wood, things have been pretty quiet,” Vassalboro Fire Chief Walker Thompson said. “I’m sure as time goes on and the wind blows, I’m sure we’ll get a couple more.”

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During the day, Central Maine Power reported power outages for customers throughout its coverage area, including Androscoggin, Oxford, Franklin and Kennebec counties. However, outages were few and never topped 10,000, according to CMP, compared to earlier this month when 100,000 customers were without electricity.

By 5 p.m., just one customer was without power in Androscoggin County and there were no outages in Oxford and Franklin counties. Just 252 people were without power in Kennebec County. There were just over 1,200 outages overall for CMP.

“The wind’s going to die down over night,” Goodwin said. “That makes it easier for power restoration for some people.” 

CMP said it had about 100 line crews, 90 tree crews and 75 contractor crews working across its service area Friday.

“Outage numbers have fluctuated all day, but the wind has not been as damaging as forecasted, limiting the numbers,” said Kerri Therriault, director of electric operations. “We certainly understand any outages are especially problematic on a holiday, we appreciate our customers’ patience, and are working to repair system damage as it happens as quickly and safely as we can.”

A utility crew works on power lines Christmas Day on Hotel Road in Auburn. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

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