Storm Brings Mix of Rain and Snow to New England

The Associated Press

FREEPORT, Maine – A powerful coastal storm packing rain, snow and sleet and wind gusts topping 60 mph knocked power out to tens of thousands of homes and businesses, shut down dozens of schools and slowed the morning commute Monday across New England.

More than 60,000 homes and businesses were in the dark Monday morning in Maine alone, with 15,000 outages in New Hampshire and sporadic outages elsewhere across the region. Portland International Jetport recorded a gust of 63 mph, and gusts topped 60 mph at the Isles of Shoals off New Hampshire. In Massachusetts, Worcester Regional Airport recorded a 52 mph wind gust.

The Coast Guard launched a helicopter, a Falcon jet, three cutters and other vessels to search for a New Jersey-based fishing boat and its four-person crew after receiving an alert at 4:20 a.m. from the boat’s emergency beacon off Massachusetts with 25- to 30-knot winds and 15-foot seas.

The boat was located later in the morning, and all aboard were safe. The fishing boat had lost generator power, making it difficult to communicate earlier, an official said.

Central Maine Power Co. officials monitored the storm over the weekend, but it was more powerful than expected when it crossed into the state, said CMP spokeswoman Gail Rice.

Numerous trees and branches fell onto power lines, and more than 40 utility poles had been toppled as of Monday morning, she said. Maine Gov. John Baldacci signed an emergency declaration to allow power crews from other states to come to Maine and to extend the number of hours crews can work in a stretch restoring power.

In Freeport, Bill Fish was startled when he awoke Monday morning to find a 75-foot pine tree had snapped and fallen across some power lines, which crashed into a heap in the middle of the road. Somehow, he’d managed to sleep through the commotion when the wind knocked down the massive tree.

“It’s good it went that way. That’s all I can say,” Fish said as four utility trucks were parked on his street. “If it had come this way, it would have hit my house.”

There was no significant snow in Maine, but there was enough rain to cause flooding and close roads to traffic. The National Weather Service said the storm will continue through Tuesday.

The complex storm pattern involves two low-pressure systems, one at the surface and the other at upper levels, that rotated off the coast from New Jersey to Maine resulting in heavy squalls and blustery conditions, said weather service meteorologist Butch Roberts.

“It was definitely a strong storm. It got progressively stronger and deeper as it approached the coast,” he said.