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Storm Lee batters eastern shores of Maine and Nova Scotia

Waves crash against the rocks at Portland Head Light, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2023, in South Portland, Maine.
Waves crash against the rocks at Portland Head Light, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2023, in South Portland, Maine. Copyright Michael Dwyer/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Michael Dwyer/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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One man was killed in Maine, US, when a branch fell on his vehicle. The storm was downgraded from a hurricane.

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Atlantic storm Lee made landfall at near-hurricane strength on Saturday, bringing destructive winds, rough surf and torrential rains to the eastern state of New England in the US and Maritime Canada. But officials withdrew some warnings for the region late on Saturday night.

The US National Hurricane Center discontinued a tropical storm warning for the coast of Maine, while Environment Canada ended its tropical storm warning in New Brunswick.

One person was killed in Maine on Saturday when a tree limb fell on his vehicle. The post-tropical cyclone also cut power to tens of thousands of customers.

The hurricane centre reported late Saturday that the storm was about 105 miles (170 kilometres) west of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and about 80 miles (125 kilometres) east of Eastport, Maine. The top sustained wind speed had dropped to 60 mph (95 kph).

The storm was tracked as moving around 22 kph and expected to proceed northeast in the coming days, taking the weather system across the Canadian Maritimes. Rainfall was expected to be an additional 25 millimetres or less for portions of eastern Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the U.S. storm centre said.

A tropical storm warning remained in effect for parts of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and the Magdalen Islands.

Earlier Saturday in Bar Harbor, Maine, the touristy gateway to Acadia National Park, a whale watch vessel broke free of its mooring and crashed ashore. Authorities worked to offload 6,813 litres of diesel fuel to prevent it from spilling into the ocean.

Lee flooded coastal roads in Nova Scotia and took ferries out of service while fanning anxiety in a region still reeling from wildfires and severe flooding this summer. The province's largest airport, Halifax Stanfield International, cancelled all flights.

"People are exhausted," said Pam Lovelace, a councillor in Halifax. "It's so much in such a small time period."

Hurricane-force winds extended as far as 220 kilometres from Lee's centre, with tropical storm-force winds extending as far as 515 kilometres, enough to cover all of Maine and much of Maritime Canada.

Stephen MacGillivray/AP
Personnel with the New Brunswick department of transportation and infrastructure block the road next to a large tree that fell in Fredericton, N.B., Sept 16, 2023Stephen MacGillivray/AP

The storm was large and strong enough to cause power outages several hundred miles from its centre. At midday Saturday, 11% of electricity customers in Maine lacked power, along with 27% of Nova Scotia, 8% of New Brunswick and 3% of Prince Edward Island.

Storm surges of up to 3 feet (0.91 metres) were expected along coastal areas, accompanied by large and destructive waves, the hurricane centre said. Lee was anticipated to drop as much as 2.5 to 5 centimetres of rain on parts of eastern Maine and New Brunswick through Saturday night, with the potential for local flooding.

A 51-year-old motorist in Searsport, Maine, died after a large tree limb fell on his vehicle Saturday on US Highway 1 during a period of high winds, the first fatality attributed to the storm.

The tree limb brought down live power lines and utility workers had to cut power before the man could be removed, Police Chief Brian Lunt said. The unidentified man died later at a hospital, Lunt said.

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