Charlie Mitchell, 19, a sophomore at Colby College, braves frigid wind chills Tuesday while skating on Johnson Pond at the Waterville campus. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

An arctic blast unleashed high winds and dangerous wind chills Tuesday, downing trees and causing power outages across central Maine.

The National Weather Service in Gray reported wind gusts reaching 51 mph in Augusta and 49 mph in Waterville, while wind chills in some areas hit minus 20.

Michael Clair, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the powerful winds were expected to weaken late Tuesday.

“(Wednesday) will be much lighter than (Tuesday),” Clair said. “Still a breeze at times, but nothing like (Tuesday).”

At 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, Central Maine Power Co. was reporting 4,145 power outages in Kennebec County, 3,875 in Franklin County, 2,147 in Waldo County and 1,555 in Somerset County.

By 5 p.m., outages were down to 320 in Kennebec County and 315 in Waldo County, while the numbers remained high in Franklin and Somerset counties, with 3,834 and 2,774, respectively.

The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory Tuesday for parts of Waldo and Somerset counties, and a high wind warning was in effect until 3 p.m. in parts of Franklin and Somerset counties, where gusts reportedly reached 65 mph.

Downed trees on Middle Road, near the Oakland-Sidney line, caused power outages.

The Winthrop Town Office closed at noon Tuesday after a power outage knocked out its heating system.

Power and telephone lines were also knocked out at some schools in Unity-based Regional School Unit 3.

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