Published Date Written by David CarkhuffEven Bigfoot had to take a back seat to this storm.
Hurricane Sandy blew into Maine Monday, knocking down wires and spurring cancellations of everything from the Student Mock Election “Rally and Tally” Event in Augusta today to the Portland Public Library’s string of Halloween-related events, including a Zombie Crawl on Halloween.
As for Bigfoot, the hairy creature was scheduled to appear as part of a segment by CBS TV’s “Sunday Morning” profiling Portland’s International Cryptozoology Museum, but it was crowded out by news on the hurricane. “It will be broadcast in the future, at a calmer time. It will be all for the good, as the program was actually forced off the air in the NYC area,” museum curator Loren Coleman reported.
“Terribly damaging” in New York, Hurricane Sandy sprawled in its reach from Florida to Maine, living up to its reputation as a monster storm, according to Joe Kelley, a marine geologist in University of Maine’s School of Earth and Climate Science.
“It’s a bizarre and unusual storm, whoever said ‘Frankenstorm,’ what a great word,” Kelley said Monday.
“It will be bad on the coast in part because the moon is full. When the moon is full and it’s new, we call it a spring tide. ... You get substantially bigger tides,” Kelley noted.
The storm brought 49 mile-per-hour wind gusts and 17-foot waves in Casco Bay, according to Monday afternoon buoy readings from the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (http://neracoos.org/realtime_map).
The National Weather Service (http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/car) warned, “It appears likely that Maine will experience dangerously strong winds, heavy rains, high surf and potential coastal erosion starting Monday, into Tuesday. Immediate concerns during this time are downed trees and power lines, and the potential for flash flooding and coastal splashover and erosion. Wind speeds and the magnitude of other specific hazards will depend on Sandy’s evolving track.”
Central Maine Power Company (http://www.cmpco.com) reported Monday afternoon more than 26,000 homes and businesses had lost power as the leading edge of Hurricane Sandy reached Maine. Customers in southern coastal areas were the first to feel the effects of the storm with nearly 21,000 outages in York County. Reports of outages began in the early afternoon, but rose rapidly shortly after 3 p.m., CMP reported. The company expected the outage count would continue to climb as high winds spread over the state.
Unitil Corporation (www.unitil.com) was advising customers to stay inside as the peak winds associated with the hurricane arrived. As of 4 p.m. Monday, approximately 22,500 Unitil customers were without power spread across all service territories, Unitil reported. Of those, approximately 15,000 customers were without power in the New Hampshire Seacoast region, 5,000 were out in the New Hampshire Capital region and 2,500 in North-Central Massachusetts.
The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced it would be instituting an emergency flood clam/shellfish closure along the coast effective midnight Monday night due to heavy rains and anticipated power outages associated with the hurricane.
Due to Hurricane Sandy, the city’s non-essential offices, including City Hall and the City Clerk’s office, closed Monday at 3 p.m. In advance of the storm, Portland Public Services crews were working to clear leaves and other debris from catch basins and storm drains. During the storm, emergency responders answered multiple calls for trees down and wires hanging from poles.
The Portland International Jetport urged travelers to check first on cancellations before arriving (http://www.portlandjetport.org).
The U.S. Coast Guard closed the Port of Portland to all vessel traffic at 5:30 p.m. Monday due to Hurricane Sandy and water conditions. Casco Bay Lines (https://www.facebook.com/CascoBayLines) was planning to have the last runs of the day leave Portland for Peaks Island at 5:35 p.m. Monday. “Weather permitting, we anticipate regularly scheduled service to resume Tuesday morning,” Casco Bay Lines reported. “For service updates early Tuesday morning please call the ticket office at (207) 774-7871 for the most current information.”
Nick Mavodones, operations manager at Casco Bay Lines, said Monday, “We’ll be running in the morning unless the weather is unusually harsh.”
Captains reported choppy conditions. “There was a lot of sea spray in the harbor,” Mavodones said.
Portland Public Library announced that the “Little Festival of Horrors” events scheduled at the Main Branch and Burbank Branch on Monday, Oct. 29 through Wednesday, Oct. 31, including a Zombie make-up workshop and Zombie Crawl have been canceled due to predicted inclement weather from Hurricane Sandy. Secretary of State Charlie Summers has cancelled the Student Mock Election “Rally and Tally” Event in Augusta today, due to the uncertainty of the predicted inclement weather and concern for safety on Maine’s roads.
For hurricane preparedness tips and precautions, visit the Maine Emergency Management Agency website at http://www.maine.gov/mema.
— Bob Higgins contributed to this report.