Published Date Written by David Carkhuff
Portland was spared the brunt of Winter Storm Gemini, the slow-moving ice storm which played havoc with the rest of the state.
No widespread power outages were reported in the Portland area from the prolonged weekend ice storm.
"We only had three people slip and fall that we could clearly attribute to ice, we had no wires down, and a car accident on Saturday that may or may not have been related to weather," said Tim Nangle with the Portland Fire Department. The car accident in the Old Port, which occurred early Saturday, did not seem to be related to the ice storm, he added.
"Everybody was prepared and either stayed home or traveled with extreme caution," Nangle said.
At the National Weather Service in Gray, meteorologist Mike Ekster said hardest hit areas for ice were from Lewiston into Augusta and eastward to the Midcoast of Maine.
"We have some reports of anywhere from a half inch to three quarters of an inch of ice," Ekster said Monday afternoon. "There are a lot of power outages right now because of that."
Central Maine Power reported that more than 54,000 customer accounts were without service Monday afternoon, and the company expected additional icing to continue into the evening. Ice as much as an inch thick coated tree branches, power lines and roads, making travel difficult and causing power interruptions, the utility reported. Androscoggin, Hancock, Kennebec, Knox and Waldo counties were the hardest hit.
Bangor Hydro/Maine Public Service, as of 11:30 a.m. Sunday, reported approximately 14,000 accounts out, most in Hancock and Washington counties. By Monday afternoon, the utility was estimating 35,595 customers affected by the storm, and nearly 39,000 customers were without service at its peak, Bangor Hydro reported Monday.
Tuesday should be sunny, but tree branches may fall in the wind and cause a few more outages, Ekster said.
"Christmas Day is going to be cold, highs in the teens and with some wind," he said.
Around 3 p.m. Monday, the Maine Department of Transportation reported that Route 9 was closed between North Intersection with U.S. Route 201 and State Route 17; Eastern Avenue (Hallowell), due to downed power lines. Route 9, Hospital Street, in Augusta was closed due to down power lines.
Additional information on storm safety and restoration, including a town-by-town listing of outages in the CMP service area with an area map, can be found on CMP's web site at www.cmpco.com.
Tips to stay safe after an ice storm,
per the Portland Fire Department:
• If you have to go outside after an ice storm, watch for branches or wires that could break or fall due to the weight of ice.
• Don't approach power lines. Any hanging power line could be charged. Stay back at least 30 feet from wires or anything in contact with them.
• Avoid driving if possible. Freezing rain can make roads extremely slippery. Wait several hours after freezing rain ends so road maintenance crews have enough time to spread sand or salt on icy roads.
• Freezing rain and strong winds increase the chances for hypothermia. Dress for the weather with boots or shoes with rubber soles.
• Stay tuned to local television or radio stations for updated weather advisories.
If you don't have power:
• Stay inside and dress warmly in layers.
• Close off unneeded rooms and use towels or rags to eliminate drafts, these help conserve heat.
• If using an alternate heat source, follow the manufacturer's recommendations and directions for safe operation.
• Use natural sunlight when available to heat house, by leaving windows uncovered. At night, cover windows to keep heat inside.
• If you don't have heat and extreme cold is on the way, prevent your pipes from freezing by either letting the water run at a trickle (if on a municipal water system) or have your heat and water systems drained.
• Keep your refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible. The food inside will stay colder, longer.
• If you're cold, consider going to a shelter, community center, shopping center or other business that has heat to warm up.
If you're using a generator:
• Never run the generator inside a structure. Generators produce carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that is deadly.
• Never connect the generator directly to your house wiring unless it has been wired by a qualified electrician. If improperly connected it could damage electrical appliances in your home and injure or kill linemen working to restore power miles away.
• Always make sure the generator is properly grounded.
• Never fuel the generator while it's running. Always disconnect electrical appliances, stop the engine and refuel the generator.
• Keep gasoline in approved containers and outside of your home. Fumes are heavier than air and can explode if an ignition source is found (e.g., pilot light).