Dorian is latest hurricane to be felt in Midcoast

By Stephen Betts | Sep 07, 2019
Photo by: National Weather Service

The rain and gusty winds that the Midcoast is experienced Saturday, Sept. 7, is the region's most recent brush with a hurricane.

Meteorologist Tyler Southard reports that most of the Midcoast will only see sustained winds of 15 to 25 miles per hour with gusts to 35 miles per hour from Hurricane Dorian which is tracking east of New England before it is expected to strike eastern Nova Scotia.

A high surf advisory is in effect for all of the Maine coast with waves of around 10 feet expected resulting in minor coastal flooding and erosion around the time of high tide. Rainfall totals will range from a half inch to 1.5 inches with higher amounts Downeast.

The Midcoast of Maine is generally spared direct hits from hurricanes, but there have been some significant exceptions, according to archives from The Courier-Gazette.

Most storms are downgraded to tropical storm status before their arrival along the Maine Coast. Many of those remnants are on par with the strongest Nor’easters that pummel the coast on occasion.

In 2017 for example, a Nor'easter brought wind gusts near hurricane force on the night of Oct. 29 and into Oct. 30, causing widespread, lengthy power outages. Nearly half the Central Maine Power customers in Knox County lost power from that storm. Wind gusts reached 74 miles per hour at Matinicus Island Rock, 54 miles per hour in Camden, and 60 miles per hour in Islesboro. Two boats -- a lobster boat and a sailboat -- went aground in Rockland. Numerous trees also came down in the Midcoast.

The Patriots Day gale of April 2007 caused damage to shorefront properties, including the Spruce Head Island bridge, but was not considered a tropical system.

The last hurricane to strike the region was Bob, which passed over the Midcoast on the afternoon and evening of Aug. 19, 1991.

Bob first crossed eastern Rhode Island and Massachusetts with winds of 115 miles per hour, but weakened as it crossed land and before it reached Maine.

Bob bowled over a number of trees locally and dumped heavy rains, with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph.

Emergency shelters were set up throughout the Midcoast. Then-Gov. John McKernan recommended that residents within a half-mile of the ocean be evacuated. Rockland police cruisers patrolled streets, informing people near the waterfront of a local shelter.

More than 120 people, mostly crew and passengers from local schooners, went to Camden-Rockport High School to take shelter. A handful of people went to Rockland District High School.


The 42-foot aluminum sloop Whisper broke from its mooring in the outer harbor in Camden and came to rest on a ramp at Wayfarer Marine.

Many stores closed early. Before the stores closed, however, they were besieged by customers rushing to buy food, batteries and candles. Marinas were swamped by people who wanted their boats removed from the water.

In the past 28 years, there have been several close calls with tropical systems, but no direct hits.

Hurricanes need warm weather — about 80 degrees — to keep their strength. Water temperatures in Maine generally don't get higher than the mid-60s. A hurricane is defined as having sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour.

Hurricane Irene resulted in gusty winds and rain when its remnants came through Maine Aug. 28, 2011. There were some power outages in Knox County from downed tree limbs. Irene's heavy rainfall caused flooding in western Maine.

Hurricane Earl threatened New England in early September 2010 before veering to the east and striking Nova Scotia. The storm created high surf and gusty winds along the Midcoast.

There was also a close call with Hurricane Floyd Sept. 17, 1999, which weakened before it brought gusty winds and heavy rains to the Midcoast. Many boats were brought ashore in expectation of the storm.

Hurricane Edouard was on course to strike the coast of Maine when it veered sharply to the east and went out to sea Sept. 2 and 3, 1996. Again, many boats were brought ashore.


Hurricane Gloria 1985

Hurricane Gloria arrived on the evening of Sept. 27, 1985. Winds were clocked locally at a steady 60 mph, knocking down trees and a few power lines, but otherwise causing little damage.

Again, stores were crowded with shoppers buying emergency supplies and marinas worked nonstop to take boats out of the water.

Gloria also had weakened considerably from when it made landfall on Long Island.

Hurricane Gerda 1969

Hurricane Gerda made landfall on the eastern tip of Maine Sept. 9, 1969. The storm brought gusty winds and rain to the Midcoast. Some schools closed, expecting more severe weather.

Hurricane Ginny 1963

Hurricane Ginny struck on the afternoon of Oct. 29, 1963. Winds were just above hurricane force, at 80 mph, with gusts at the Coast Guard station in Rockland recorded at 100 mph.

Many trees were knocked over and a barn at the Maine State Prison farm in South Warren was destroyed. Other small buildings were also blown down.

Hurricane Daisy 1962

Hurricane Daisy was the last hurricane to claim a life in the Midcoast. Daisy arrived on the afternoon of Oct. 7, 1962. A man was killed in Thomaston when a huge tree limb broke and struck the car in which he was a passenger. A man in Rockland was struck and killed by a car during the storm.

Numerous trees and 103 power lines locally were downed by Daisy, which had wind gusts reaching 80 mph.

Hurricane Donna 1960

Hurricane Donna also brought down many trees when it arrived Sept. 12, 1960. No major damage or serious injuries were reported.

Hurricanes Carol/Edna 1954

The late summer of 1954 brought a one-two punch that is considered to be the worst damage brought locally from a hurricane in recorded times.

Hurricane Carol arrived Aug. 31 with winds between 75 and 100 mph. Newspaper reports called it the worst storm since 1938. A man died trying to save his sailboat off Marshall Point in St. George.

Less than two weeks later, on Sept. 12, Edna struck and made Carol look tame. Edna packed winds of 115 mph and knocked down hundreds of trees. Many electrical and telephone lines were downed, and service was interrupted for a few days to many homes. Nearly half the lobster traps in the ocean were lost to extremely rough seas. Many roads were impassable from 7 inches of rain.

1944 hurricane

This unnamed storm caused extensive damage in southern New England, but spared the Midcoast a direct hit. The Courier-Gazette reported that it was a tolerably good old storm, similar to many gales experienced on the coast.

There were torrential rains. A large tree fell across Camden Street by Washington Street, forcing vehicles to be detoured. The lower section of Main Street was also blocked off to traffic for fear that the spire of the Baptist church would topple. Electricity was knocked out for the entire city and telephone service was also disrupted.

1938 hurricane

The unnamed hurricane of 1938 that devastated Long Island and parts of Rhode Island knocked down many trees locally and produced a lot of rain, but no major damage when it struck Sept. 22.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Joseph Steinberger | Sep 07, 2019 20:46

Thank you Steve for this interesting and well researched article.

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