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Power out for over 92,000 Maine customers as Lee re-categorized to a post-tropical cyclone

As of just after 11 a.m. Saturday, power was out for over 92,000 customers statewide. That's as the National Hurricane Center has re-categorized Lee from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone.

Officials warn, however, that the change in the storm's designation doesn't mean its anticipated effects have been diminished.

Along the coast, preparations for the storm have been ongoing.

Chris Gardner, Eastport Port Authority Executive Director, says all pleasure craft and fishing vessels have been tightly packed into the Eastport Breakwater, a concrete pier that provides safe harbor. Gardner says mariners in Eastport are used to nor'easters, not tropical storms.

"We have two large piers on opposing sides of our island, so we watch the weather and see where the prevailing winds will be, and we move assets around as needed to stay out of prevailing winds. The interesting thing about this storm is as it goes over us those wind directions could change. If there is a uniqueness to this it is that," Gardner says.

In Machias, Town Manager and Harbor Master Bill Kitchen says the concern is flooding downtown and on the 300-foot causeway that carries Route 1 over the Middle River.

"We will keep a close eye on the dike and causeway where we are expecting potential flooding, depending on just how far east this thing will drift," Kitchen said.

National Hurricane Center

Kitchen says the University of Maine Machias gymnasium can be used as a shelter if needed, under an agreement between the UMaine system and the Maine Emergency Management Agency. He says the town's emergency management director has two school buses ready to move residents from assisted living facilities and the veterans home to that shelter if the facilities' generators fail and relocation becomes necessary.

In midcoast Maine people have been hauling lobster boats, lashing down loose gear and generally battening down the hatches.

Caleb Jones, the manager of Schooner Landing in Damariscotta, says he'd taken precautions to protect the restaurant's outdoor dining area on a dock in the Damariscotta River.

"So we've taken a lot of rope as you can see with our canopies and we've tied all of them down so the actual canvas doesn't start flipping up which is the biggest concern. We took extra GRK screws and screwed them into all the decking joists and all the heavier parts of the dock just to make sure it's as tied down as it can be against the deck," Jones said.

The storm is expected to lash coastal Maine with heavy wind and rain on Saturday. Down East Maine will have the greatest impacts from Lee.

Here's the latest from the National Hurricane Center as of 2 p.m. Saturday:

"At 200 PM AST (1800 UTC), the center of Post-Tropical Cyclone Lee was located near latitude 43.8 North, longitude 66.4 West. The post-tropical cyclone is moving toward the north near 22 mph (35 km/h). A northward motion is expected to continue, and the center of Lee is forecast to make landfall in Atlantic Canada later this afternoon. Lee is then expected to turn toward the northeast and move across Atlantic Canada tonight and Sunday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 70 mph (110 km/h) with higher gusts. Lee is expected to be near hurricane strength when it makes landfall later this afternoon. Weakening is forecast tonight and Sunday while Lee moves across Atlantic Canada.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles (220 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 390 miles (630 km). An observation in Bangor, Maine, recently reported a wind gust of 52 mph (84 km/h).

The estimated minimum central pressure is 968 mb (28.58 inches)."

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.
Andrew Catalina is manager of digital news, responsible for editing and producing news content on all of Maine Public's digital platforms, in addition to myriad other news- and content-related roles.