While residents of Maine and New England were cleaning up from Hurricane Carol, Edna was forming off the coast of South America. The storm formed on September 2nd and began to move at an average forward speed of 11 mph toward the north and northwest. Forecasters began to become concerned on September 7th when the storm intensified to hurricane strength southeast of the Bahamas. As the storm moved northwest, another deep trough, similar to the one that took Carol rapidly northeast was developing along the east coast. By September 8th, Edna had moved to within 300 miles of the Florida coast and began to turn northward. On September 9th, hurricane watches were issued along the coast from Georgia to Cape Hatteras as winds were now close to 125 mph, making Edna potentially more powerful than Carol.
As the storm moved northward, it began to accelerate, affected by the trough that had developed along the eastern seaboard. On September 10th, the storm was located off the Carolina coast, but turning more northeastward. Watches and warnings were issued as far north as the Merrimack River in Massachusetts. On September 11th, Edna passed by Cape Hatteras and headed northeast at a speed of 26 mph. The storm continued to accelerate to 48 mph later that day. Across New England, Rains began to fall, and totals ranged from 5 to 7 inches. For most of New England, Edna will be remembered as a wet storm.
The eye of the storm passed between Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts at 2:30 PM on September 11th. Thankfully, Edna arrived at low tide, and high storm tides did not form. As the storm continued northeast, winds began to wrap around the storm from the north. The storm was large, as gale force winds extended outward 400 miles from the center. Winds of 110 mph were reported at Block Island, RI, 90 mph at Providence, RI, and 87 mph at Boston with a brief gust of 101 mph from the northwest.
As the storm passed Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, something unusual happened. The eye of the storm split into two sections. One eye was said to be over Cape Cod near Brewster, while the other was said to be northeast of Provincetown. Record pressure readings at Truro (28.29") and Nantucket (28.18") supported the presence of the two eyes as they are over 60 miles apart.
The worst damage from Edna occurred primarily in Maine. Along the coast, the amount of marine damage was huge. Heavy rains soaked the area in excess of 7 to 8 inches. The Kennebec and other rivers went wild, and washed out roads and bridges throughout central and southern Maine. Winds at Portland were 60 mph with gusts to 74 mph. Portland also reported a total of 7.49 inches of rain, 5.84 inches in only 6 hours. The lowest pressure recorded in Maine was 940 Mb or 27.77" Hg.
Damages in Maine totaled more than $15 Million dollars, $5 Million more that Carol only 10 days earlier. Damages in Androscoggin County were estimated at around $300,000 dollars, and the damage total for New England was $40.5 Million dollars. A State of emergency was declared in 20 counties.
In the Auburn and Lewiston area, the heavy rains began at 5:22 AM on Saturday, September 11th, and continued until 9:45 PM that night. There was only one break in the rainfall and that occurred between 7:40 PM and 8:45 PM. The Androscoggin River rose rapidly as the rains fell. By 11 AM, the flow was 43,000 cfs at Gulf Island Dam, and the Libby Mill's first floor was flooded. Strong winds also buffeted the area. Winds at the airport gusted as high as 65 mph. Due to the strong winds, there were numerous power outages across the area. In addition, numerous trees were knocked down.
Eight people died due to drowning in Maine. In Unity, a family of
10 was trapped on top of their car, cut off by raging flood waters. A
human chain of rescuers managed to save 9 of them. One 8 year old
girl was swept away as her father lost his grip on the child when a
house smashed into the guard rail. A 47 year old man was also swept
away as he was trying to rescue the family. In all, a total of 29
people died in the storm, 12 people in New England, and 8 of those
were in Maine.
Copyright 2002, Wayne Cotterly