A National Weather Service damage team will investigate Wednesday whether a tornado touched down in St. Albans during a storm Monday that downed trees and knocked out power to many in the region, particularly in Somerset County.

Early Tuesday evening, downed trees still blocked some private roads in the county, slowing utility crews that were trying to get to those without power.

The central Somerset County town of St. Albans was one of the hardest-hit in the fast-moving Monday afternoon storm, which generated tornado warnings in Somerset and Franklin counties and reports of golf ball-size hail. About 148 of the Central Maine Power’s 1,354 customers in the town were still without power at 5 p.m. Tuesday, accounting for more than a third of the outages remaining from the thousands who lost power Monday afternoon as the storm roared through parts of Kennebec, Somerset and Franklin counties from 2:30 to 3 p.m.

Trees fell, taking down power lines and blocking roads, and some of those in more isolated areas of the county won’t have power back until Wednesday night, according to CMP spokeswoman Gail Rice.

CMP expected to fix most outages by Tuesday night, Rice said Tuesday afternoon. In some areas, though, where the storm caused considerable damage and road blockages are making it harder for crews to get to the downed wires, it will take longer. Crews from southern Maine and the coast were in the area, helping to fix the damage, and CMP crews were expected to work through the night.

At 5 p.m. Tuesday, 348 customers in Somerset county out of a total of 29,366 were without power, down from 3,700 in the county shortly after the storm Monday. There were still several hundred outages in Franklin, Kennebec, Lincoln, Penobscot and Piscataquis counties.


Nearly everyone in Harmony — 572 out of 577 CMP customers — was without power Tuesday morning, but that was down to 17 by Tuesday evening.

In St. Albans, where many believed a tornado had touched down near Indian Pond, multiple streets in the town had no power Tuesday morning, and more than half of the utility company’s 1,354 customers were still in the dark. By 5 p.m. Tuesday, 148 were still without power, the highest number in Somerset County.

The possible tornado was reported almost two years to the day after one hit during a similar storm.

Michael Smith, the Somerset County emergency management director, said there were more than 60 reports of fallen trees or wires in the county after the storm and the damage from the possible tornado was close to where the 2014 twister touched down, near Indian Pond.

He had his eye out Tuesday morning for signs of a tornado, such as twisted trees, and said some residents who have experienced tornadoes before said Monday’s storm felt similar.

The weather service isn’t sending the damage survey team until Wednesday, because on Tuesday the team was in New Hampshire, another area the storm caused major damage. The weather service reported Tuesday that the damage in Plaistow, New Hampshire, was caused by a microburst with wind gusts of 80 to 90 mph.


WCSH 6 meteorologist Todd Gutner reported Monday night that a tornado had been confirmed in the Aroostook County town of New Sweden, just north of Caribou.

There have been 13 confirmed tornadoes in Somerset County since 1950, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began keeping track. They range in time from one in September 1961 to the July 15, 2014, St. Albans one. The most recent before that one was in New Portland and Embden in June 2011, according to the NOAA.

“We missed total devastation by inches,” said Brian Steinward, 66, who lives on Luckman Road in St. Albans.

He said the area got very dark Monday and then, “Kapow! It just came in,” including strong wind and what he described as marble-sized hail.

He was one of those without power Tuesday afternoon. He said given the storm’s power, the damage could have been much worse. Of the 15 homes and camps on Luckman Road, one had major roof damage from a collapsed tree, he said.

Many trees missed homes by inches, and a 120-foot tall poplar tree landed just a few feet from his deck. “The damage that could’ve been here compared to the damage that is here is incredible,” he said.


While most people escaped major damage to their property, he said, many of the docks on Indian Pond were destroyed.

A tree fell on his friend’s Tracker boat but hit the area between the transom and the prop on the dock, so there are appears to be no damage to the boat itself, he said.

Roads blocked by fallen trees were a major problem Monday, St. Albans Town Manager Rhonda Stark said Tuesday morning

“At one point last night it was almost impossible to get out of town,” Stark said.

The St. Albans Fire Department started working to clear the debris Monday night.

While most public roads in town were passable by Tuesday, trees were down on many private roads as well, Smith said.


Stark said she had seen some houses that were hit by trees, including one residence on Dinsmore Road where a door was blocked, the satellite dish ripped off and the corner of the garage hit.

In Skowhegan, a large fir tree came crashing down onto a 37-foot recreational vehicle at the Coburn Avenue home of Rick and Pat Nadeau.

Tuesday morning, Rick Nadeau was positioning a floor jack under the tree to take weight off the damaged RV. Nadeau said at least 10 large trees were toppled nearby during Monday’s brief but powerful storm, and many neighbors had damaged trees and property.

The damage left by straight-line wind is different from damage left by a tornado, said meteorologist Andy Pohl, and taking a look at the nature of the damage is one way the team determines if a tornado touched down.

There were also reports to the weather service Monday of large hail in Temple as well as golf ball-size hail in Kingfield. Wind in several areas reached 55 to 65 mph during the storm, Pohl said.

The public works and transportation departments in Franklin County also were working Tuesday morning to clean up after Monday’s storm, and most public roads that were closed off are now open, said Tim Hardy, the county’s emergency director. Kingfield, Strong, Avon and Industry were the towns hit worst by the storm, he said.


Pohl said such storms are unusual in July in New England.

Madeline St. Amour – 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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