Wild weather from southern to northern New England on Monday brought a rash of severe-thunderstorm warnings, at least one confirmed tornado, and damage to trees and buildings in several towns.
Here in southern Maine, a storm that moved through Hollis, Standish and Limington caused quite a bit of tree damage. This storm did have rotation on the radar, and a tornado warning was issued as it moved through the area.
In the aftermath, a team from the National Weather Service will go into the area on Tuesday or Wednesday and survey the damage. These folks are trained to evaluate how the damage occurred to confirm if it was a tornado or a downburst. They will also be able to let us know how strong the winds were and, if it was a tornado, how long it lasted, how wide it was and its exact path.
Tornadoes are not common in Maine, but they aren’t rare either. We tend to get small tornadoes that don’t last very long and are not very wide. Unlike the tornadoes in the Midwest, which can be a mile wide at the most severe, those in Maine are significantly smaller.
History shows there have been tornadoes in Portland. Back in 1752, according to David Ludlum’s The Country Journal New England Weather Book, a tornado on Aug. 12 blew down houses and barns. In the late 1920s there were water spouts on Sebago Lake, perhaps similar to what was seen Monday. Back in 1958, a tornado that was up to 400 yards wide tore a path 20 miles long and uprooted trees in the Allagash section of Maine.
The inland sections of Maine are much more likely to see severe thunderstorms and therefore possible tornadoes. This is because the coastline has the influence of the ocean and storms tend to fall apart as they move to the coast.
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After the one tornado warning Tuesday afternoon, no more tornado warnings or watches were issued.
As of mid-evening the final batch of severe weather was pushing into the Waterville, Skowhegan areas and this line will now move further north and east as it weakens overnight.
The rest of this week looks much more tranquil and although there will likely be more storms this summer. Let’s hope they are not as severe as our outbreaks in the past two days.