FREEPORT, Maine (AP) — A powerful coastal storm packing rain, snow and sleet surprised New Englanders with its ferocity as wind gusts built to speeds topping 60 mph, knocking down trees and utility poles, leaving tens of thousands of people in the dark. At sea, swells topped out at more than 15 feet.
At the peak, more than 60,000 homes and businesses were in the dark Monday morning in Maine, where the Portland International Jetport recorded a gust of 63 mph. There were 15,000 outages in New Hampshire, where winds topped 60 mph at the Isles of Shoals. There were sporadic outages elsewhere.
The storm raked the region with driving rain, sleet and freezing rain, and powerful winds seemed to grab trees and effortlessly shake them. Dozens of schools closed for the day because of power outages and at least one traffic fatality was blamed on the weather.
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 utility crews restored power on his country road. “If it had come this way, it would have hit my house.”