People walk on Willard Beach with their dogs as the winds from Hurricane Lee begin to pick up on Saturday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Maine is no longer in Hurricane Lee’s direct path, but the storm is still expected to pack a punch.

The National Weather Service discontinued the hurricane watch for Down East Maine as of 11 a.m. Friday after the potential path of the giant storm narrowed and shifted to the east. A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the entire Maine coast.

Despite the downgrade, Lee is still forecasted to be large and dangerous when it reaches eastern New England and Canada.

The tropical storm conditions expected to hit late Friday are likely to lead to downed trees, potential power outages, coastal flooding, life-threatening surf and rip-tides, and significant rain in the Down East region.

“While the hurricane has recently been downgraded, to me it is unusual to see a 300-mile width span of tropical-strength winds that can be extremely damaging to the state of Maine and other places the storm is likely to affect,” Gov. Janet Mills said during a news briefing Friday afternoon.

While some tree damage occurs with bad storms, in this case the winds – which will be stronger along the coast – are expected to affect a broad area.


“We’re concerned about tree damage on human beings, on cars, on houses and across roads, and flooding,” Mills said.

President Biden has approved an emergency declaration request in Maine ahead of Hurricane Lee’s expected impacts on the state.

Mills declared a state of emergency Thursday in anticipation of the storm and asked Biden to issue the Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration, which would allow the state to access federal resources and personnel to assist with the storm response.

Jeffrey Scott Smith, a photographer from Freeport, decided to look for photos before the storm at Bug Light park in South Portland when he saw the colorful sunset. Michele McDonald/Staff Editor

The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will coordinate any disaster relief efforts.

The National Hurricane Center said tropical storm conditions were expected to begin across parts of coastal New England on Friday afternoon. Emergency officials and electric utilities are preparing for coastal damage and power outages.

Mills thanked Biden in a statement Friday morning.


“I thank President Biden for his swift approval of my request for an Emergency Disaster Declaration, which will give us access to additional resources as we work to keep Maine people safe during this storm,” Mills said. “I continue to strongly urge all Maine people, especially those Down East, to take the necessary precautions to stay safe as Hurricane Lee moves closer.”

The storm was expected to make landfall in southern New England Friday afternoon and move northward along the New England coast through Saturday.

As the storm moves in, the state should expect winds of up to 40 mph. Near shore waves – measured by buoys a few miles off shore – were expected to peak at 4-7 feet Friday, 5-9 feet Friday night and 12-18 feet Saturday, according to the National Weather Service in Gray.

The weather service has issued a coastal flood advisory for high tide Friday, which will hit around midnight, and high tide Saturday, which will be in the early afternoon. The storm is expected to have a more significant impact Down East compared to other portions of the state. The region may receive as much as four inches of rain over the course of the storm.

Southern and western portions of the state might not get any rain at all.



While the sun might be out in parts of the state Saturday afternoon, people should not head to the state’s beaches to watch the surf because a storm surge is still expected, with high waves and dangerous conditions, said Peter Rogers, director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency.

“The biggest message I can tell you right now is that even though people are saying it’s starting to break up, that wind field is over 300 miles long,” he said. “The state will get damages. We will lose power.”

Officials in coastal towns are telling people to stay away from beaches and areas that frequently flood during storms.

Biddeford’s public beaches will be closed through Sunday morning and parking will be prohibited in all beach parking areas.

In York, Long Sands, Short Sands, Cape Neddick and Harbor beaches will be closed from midnight Friday to sunrise Sunday. Officials warn that water rescue by local, state or federal emergency responders will most likely not be possible during the storm.

York police expect to close low-lying coastal roads – including Long Beach Avenue and Ocean Avenue – because of the forecasted storm surge and splash over at high tide. The town will close the gates at Mount Agamenticus and Sohier Park at Nubble Light from sunset Friday to sunrise Sunday.


All beaches in Ogunquit and the Marginal Way will be closed from 11 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Sunday. Police will monitor Perkins Cove and will close that area if the storm causes safety issues.

Saco police will restrict travel through Camp Ellis during the storm. Starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, only local traffic will be allowed past Bayview Road.

Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth will be closed on Saturday because waves are anticipated to be 12 to 30 feet in height, town officials said.


Mills and emergency managers offered advice to residents, including having three days’ worth of food, water and medicine on hand for everyone in the household as well as for pets. Generators should be fueled, installed and in good working order before the storm; they should be operated at a safe distance from homes. Sump pumps also should be checked.

The city of Portland is encouraging residents to prepare for potential power outages, high winds and coastal flooding.   


The city asked residents to remove objects from their yards that could fly around in high wind and to avoid any flooded and barricaded streets.  

The First Parish Church on 425 Congress St. in Portland will be open to unhoused individuals from 7 7 p.m. Saturday. First Parish has the capacity to shelter as many as 150 people during the day Saturday. Other emergency shelters could open as the storm goes on.  

Open shelters will be listed on the Maine Emergency Management Agency’s website or can be found by calling 2-1-1 to find out if there are any open emergency shelters. None were open as of 6:30 p.m. Friday. 

Siblings David Weidemann, 3, and Syra Weidemann, 7, of South Portland build rock cairns as waves crash along the shore of Fort Williams Park on Friday. Their father, Matthew Weidemann, said he took the family to the park to see the waves generated by the storm Lee. Fort Williams Park will be closed on Saturday due to the weather. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The York County Emergency Management Agency is working with municipalities to prepare for the storm and is encouraging residents to find out where their local shelters are located and have a plan to keep family members and pets comfortable if staying put, as well as a having plan to evacuate and shelter if necessary.

In Biddeford, the Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center will be open to unhoused individuals starting Friday night.

Residents also should have a plan for power outages and keep their electronics charged, stock up on batteries and keep track of how long their electronics should last, Arsenault said.


The agency is preparing to open shelters by staging staff and equipment. “At this point none are open but folks are ready to go should we need them,” said Megan Arsenault, the agency’s deputy director of emergency management.

The agency is particularly concerned about areas near the coast vulnerable to flooding and strong winds from the storm. “The impacts will be felt hundreds of miles away from the center of the storm,” she said. “So we will certainly feel things in York.”

Preble Street, a social service organization focused on providing basic necessities such as housing and food to those in need, is helping Portland’s homeless residents find safe places to wait out the storm.

“Homelessness is difficult and tragic any time of year, but it becomes most apparent when severe weather occurs,” Preble Street Deputy Director Daniella Cameron said in a statement.

Cameron said the organization is grateful to First Parish Church for opening its doors to homeless individuals, but that it needs resources to provide people shelter and safe spaces every day, not just during extreme weather.

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Jessica Lowell contributed to this report. 

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