Maine preps as hurricane races toward Nova Scotia

MACHIAS, Maine - September 28, 2008 - A hurricane watch for Maine was discontinued Sunday but a tropical storm warning remained in effect from Stonington, at the mouth of Penobscot Bay, to Eastport on the Canadian border, the National Hurricane Center said. The Canadian Hurricane Centre issued a hurricane warning for parts of southwestern Nova Scotia, with tropical storm warnings for parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The Category 1 storm's track was expected to bring its center ashore in New Brunswick just west of Saint John late Sunday or early Monday, but by then it is expected to have less than hurricane strength, said Peter Bowyer of the Canadian center in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

There were no immediate plans for evacuations in Maine, although residents were warned of potential power outages and interruptions in ferry services to islands.

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 expected wind gusts in Maine to reach up to 60 mph and waves up to 20 feet, said Robert McAleer, Maine Emergency Management Agency director.

Down East residents are accustomed to rough weather, but it most often comes in the winter when nor'easters howl along the East Coast. Maine hasn't had anything like a hurricane since Bob was downgraded as it moved into the state in 1991 after causing problems in southern New England.

While residents took precautions, many weren't impressed by Kyle.

"It probably won't be much different than a Nor'easter except we don't have to deal with the snow," said Jesse Davis of Marshfield, who planned to ride out the wind and rain at home with his wife and 2-month-old daughter. He gassed up his vehicles and generator, took in his deck furniture and filled up water jugs, but said that's what he does for any big storm.

"Down East we get storms with 50 to 60 mph winds every winter. Those storms can become ferocious," said Washington County Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Hineman. Down East is the rugged, sparsely populated area from about Bar Harbor to the Canadian border.

Many lobstermen moved their boats to sheltered coves, said Dwight Carver, a lobsterman on Beals Island. Some also moved lobster traps from shallow water.

"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."

In Lubec, the easternmost town in the U.S., town workers pulled up docks and fishermen moved boats across the harbor into Campobello Island, New Brunswick, which has coves and wharves that offer shelter.

At 2 p.m. EDT Sunday, Kyle was centered about 225 miles southeast of Portland, Maine, and about 230 miles southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the National Hurricane Center said. It was moving toward the north-northeast at roughly 24 mph and was expected to continue that track for the next day or so.

Kyle's maximum sustained wind was blowing at nearly 80 mph, with hurricane-force wind of at least 74 mph extending up to 70 miles out from the center.

Emergency Measures officials in New Brunswick were concerned that people living inland were not taking the storm warnings seriously enough.

"We're talking to people on the street and they're shrugging this off," said spokesman Ernie MacGillvray.

He noted that the storm system was hundreds of miles wide. "They need to understand there's going to be a whole bunch of impact and it could be a few days before phones and power is restored," MacGillvray said.

The deadliest storm to hit the Northeast 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.


Associated Press writer Clarke Canfield in Portland, Maine, contributed to this report.

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