PENOBSCOT BAY — Seas are building as a storm blowing out of the northeast swirls just offshore, at times gusting up to 40 knots. A lobster boat was escorted back to safety late in the morning, Oct. 22, after fishermen reported taking on water four miles south of Criehaven. By Oct. 23, a buoy on Jeffreys Ledge reported gusts of 62 knots (71 mph), with seas at 18.4 feet.
Most boats are staying put in the harbors, and skiffs have been hauled and turned over onto the docks or grass. Those that haven’t are quickly filling with rainwater. Ferry service to Vinalhaven and North Haven has been cancelled from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday, as gale-force winds are predicted throughout parts of Penobscot Bay and in the Gulf of Maine.
“The weather is wreaking havoc out there,” said Coast Guard Lt. Scott McCann, who is based at U.S. Coast Guard Station South Portland. Across the waters of New Hampshire and Maine, the Coast Guard is getting weather-related calls this afternoon.
In addition to the Criehaven assist this morning, Coast Guard Station Rockland helped secure an unmanned sailboat that apparently broke free from its chain, taking its mooring ball with it. The Sea Whisperer, a 19-foot sloop, landed on the rocks, but sustained minimal damage, the Coast Guard said. Her owner is arranging for salvage.
The 42-foot lobster vessel fishing Southern Skies II, reported taking on water four miles south of Criehaven around 11 a.m. Oct. 22. There were three people onboard, and they said they had lost navigation equipment due to the weather. Two windows were also broken in the cabin.
The Coast Guard launched Station Rockland, a 47-foot lifeboat, as well as an airplane and helicopter from Coast Guard Station Cape Cod.
“Before we got on-scene a Good Samaritan [the fishing vessel Independence] escorted the Southern Skies II to Criehaven Harbor,” said McCann.
With the help of the Independence, the Southern Skies II was able make its way to Criehaven Harbor under her own engine, where temporary repairs were made. The vessel is now on its way to Rockland Harbor, McCann said.
The storm responsible for the predictions of two to four to possibly six inches of rain (Camden eventually received 5.5 inches, according to one rainwater gauge) along the shoreline is a swath of low pressure that is intensifying as it moves toward Nova Scotia. Gale warnings have been issued along the Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts coastline, with Cape Ann in Massachusetts expected to be hit hardest with possible coastal flooding.
Two low pressure systems off Delmarva Peninsula (Delaware) are stirring up weather, and satellite water vapor imagery shows a stream of moisture that originates in Florida, according to the National Weather Service in its latest discussion about the nor’easter affecting Maine’s coast. A nor’easter, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, “is a cyclonic storm that moves along the East Coast of North America. It’s called nor’easter because the winds over coastal areas blow from a northeasterly direction.”
A weather buoy off of Matinicus Rock was reading winds out of the northeast of 31 knots with gusts up to 40 knots late Wednesday afternoon, with an air temperature of 52 F. Seas then were expected to build six to nine feet. (Read current offshore water buoy data here.)
Along the shoreline, a hazardous weather condition alert has been issued, as well as a flood watch. The cumulative effect of heavy rain over the next few days is anticipated to fill streams and rivers, causing them to potentially rise over their banks.
Local fire departments have been responding to a few downed trees this afternoon.
“Rain will continued through the day as the low deepens off the southern New England Coast,” said the weather service, at 12:13 p.m. “In the coastal plain, winds will incease during the morning as the gradient tightens, with gusts to near wind advisory possible.”
In an alert distributed by the State of Maine, the state’s Emergency Management Agency advises: “Strong winds can make driving difficult, especially for high profile vehicles. Fallen leaves and rain may lead to slippery conditions. Leaves blocking drains and culverts may also aggravate street flooding. High winds may bring down limbs, debris and power lines across roadways. Heavy rain may cause unexpected ponding or flooding on roadways.”
• Slow down and stay alert.
• Respect all barricades marking flooded or blocked roadways.
• Report any road blockages, downed lines or flooding to local authorities.
• Check for road closures and ferry cancellations before you set out. Check DOT's 511 service by dialing 5-1-1 or 1-866-282-7578 or visiting 511maine.gov for all ferry and road closure information.
• Stay safe if the power goes out.
• Report your outage and downed lines to your electric utility.
• Stay well away from any downed power lines.
• Run your generator outside only. Carbon monoxide kills. Even running in a garage can be lethal. Outside only.
• Use alternate heat sources safely, vented according to instructions.
• Use outdoor cooking devices such as grills outside only. These produce deadly carbon monoxide.
• As always, check on neighbors and friends who may need assistance.
For more information on storm safety, visit Maine Prepares, maine.gov/mema/prepare
Weather forecast (as of Oct. 22)
This Afternoon: Rain. The rain could be heavy at times. High near 51. Breezy, with a northeast wind around 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Tonight: Rain. The rain could be heavy at times. Low around 50. Breezy, with a northeast wind around 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. New precipitation amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible.
Thursday: Rain. The rain could be heavy at times. High near 56. Breezy, with a northeast wind 15 to 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. New precipitation amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible.
Thursday Night: Rain. Low around 49. North wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent.
Friday: Showers likely, mainly before 7am. Cloudy, with a high near 55. North wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.
Then.... Sunny through Tuesday, in the upper 50s!
Editorial Director Lynda Clancy can be reached at email@example.com; 207-706-6657