EASTPORT, Maine – Heavy rain drenched Maine on Sunday as Hurricane Kyle plowed northward across the Atlantic, triggering the state’s first hurricane watch in 17 years.
Kyle could make landfall in the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia or New Brunswick sometime during the night or early Monday, according the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
A hurricane watch was posted along the coast of Maine from Stonington, at the mouth of Penobscot Bay, to Eastport on the Canadian border, and for southwestern Nova Scotia, the center said. Tropical storm warnings were in effect from Port Clyde, near Rockland, to the coasts of southern New Brunswick and southwest Nova Scotia.
“Since Saturday, it has picked up in intensity, but it has also stabilized,” said Joseph Hewitt, a Maine-based senior forecaster for the National Weather Service.
Canadians used to rough weather
There were no immediate plans for evacuations in Maine.
Near the Canadian border, residents along the rugged coast are accustomed to rough weather, but more often that comes in snowstorms rather than tropical systems, said Washington County Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Hineman.
“Down East we get storms with 50 to 60 mph winds every winter. Those storms can become ferocious,” he said. Down East is the rugged, sparsely populated area from about Bar Harbor to the Canadian border.
Many lobstermen moved their boats to sheltered coves to ride out the storm, said Dwight Carver, a lobsterman on Beals Island. Some also moved lobster traps from shallow water, but most were caught off-guard by the storm’s short notice.
“I’m sure we’ll have a lot of snarls, a lot of mess, to take care of when it’s done,” Carver said. “It’ll take us a few days to straighten things out.”
Heavy rain lashed the state Sunday for a third straight day. As much as 5.5 inches had already fallen along coastal areas. Flood watches were in effect for the southern two-thirds of New Hampshire and southern Maine through Sunday evening.
Authorities expect wind gusts in Maine to reach up to 60 mph and waves up to 20 feet, said Robert McAleer, Maine Emergency Management Agency director. He said coastal and small stream flooding could be a problem.
Evacuations urged for ill, sick
Residents of coastal islands were advised to evacuate if they depend on electricity for medical reasons, because ferry service was expected to be shut down Sunday, McAleer said. Power failures also were likely over the north coastal region of the state, he said.
Maine hasn’t had a hurricane, or even a hurricane watch, since Bob was downgraded as it moved into the state in 1991. For the rest of New England, the last time a hurricane warning was posted was September 1996, for Nantucket Island off the coast of Massachusetts, the weather service said.
At 8 a.m. EDT Sunday, Kyle was centered about 165 miles south-southeast of Nantucket, or about 440 miles southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the National Hurricane Center said.
It was moving toward the north-northeast at roughly 24 mph and expected to continue that track for the next day or so.
Kyle’s maximum sustained wind speed had strengthened to nearly 80 mph, with hurricane-force wind of at least 74 mph extending up to 200 miles out from the center.
However, it was expected to weaken during the day Sunday as it moved over colder water, the hurricane center said.
Hurricane Bob caused problems in southern New England but lost steam as it headed northward into Maine.
The deadliest storm to hit the region was in 1938 when a hurricane killed 700 people and destroyed 63,000 homes on New York’s Long Island and throughout New England. Other hurricanes that have hit Maine were Carol and Edna in 1954, Donna in 1960 and Gloria in 1985.
A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions, with wind of at least 74 mph, are possible within 36 hours. A tropical storm warning means conditions for that type of storm, with wind of 39 to 73 mph, are expected within the next 24 hours.