April Storm Knocks Out Power To Hundreds Of Thousands Of Mainers

Apr 10, 2020

An April storm packing heavy snow and gusy winds has knocked out power to more than 250,000 homes and businesses in Maine.

At about noon Friday, Central Maine power was reporting more than 196,000 outages.  In Emera Maine's territory farther north, nearly 72,000 customers had no power at about 11:15.

Central Maine Power's CEO Dough Herling says the storm could result in multi-day outages for some.  He says about a third of CMP's approximately 650,000 customers lost power at some point overnight.

Herling says restoration is complicated by the need to adhere to social distancing guidelines recommended by health officials during the COVID-19 crisis. 

"All of our crews that normally drive two in a truck - they have one, while one will follow in a vehicle behind. And then while working, they'll maintain the six-foot rule," he says. "And one thing we ask is that customers not approach them."

Other challenges include the continuing snow - which could bring more outages - and unplowed roads in some areas, he says, and the difficulty of out-of-state crews finding lodging, as hotels and motels are closed due to the pandemic.

Herling says a few medical facilities lost power overnight, but all - except possibly one - regained service Friday morning.

Herling was unable to predict when full service might be restored across the state.

The snow began falling Thursday afternoon, and some areas in Maine have received more than a foot. National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Schwibs says those gusty winds could yet pose more problems.

"The storm is starting to exit this morning, but we're going to have gusty winds behind it, which may slow the power restoration efforts a little bit," he says.

And that could pose issues for Mainers under a stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus as temperatures dip Friday night.

"It's not overly cold out because it's not the dead of winter, but, you know, tonight's low temperatures - Friday night - are only going to be upper 20s to lower 30s," Schwibs says. "So it's not going to be bitterly cold, but the longer you go without power the more issues you're going to have with people being in their homes."

Schwibs says mild weather is expected over the weekend, with temperatures getting up into the 50s in some areas by Sunday.

This story was updated April 10, 2020, at 12:27 p.m. ET.