FORT KENT, Maine — The region’s first measurable snowfall had local and state officials dealing with slush-covered roads and accidents as a fast-moving front left up to 5 inches of snow around northern Maine.
Slushy conditions early in the day in the St. John Valley were blamed for a single-vehicle accident resulting in $10,000 in damage to a 2004 Dodge pickup driven by Robin Lowe, 27.
According to Fort Kent Police Chief Kenneth Michaud, Lowe was on Route 1 in Frenchville near the picnic area and heading east when the truck skidded off the road, went into the ditch, climbed an embankment and struck a utility pole.
Michaud said Lowe, who was wearing her seat belt at the time, suffered minor injuries to her knee.
Elsewhere in the county state and municipal police responded to numerous calls for vehicles off the road.
“The roads are not icing up [and] the snow is not freezing to the pavement,” Mark Latti, public information officer for the Maine Department of Transportation, said Thursday afternoon. “But the trucks are moving slushy snow off the roads.”
DOT crews from Mars Hill north were out clearing slush and spreading salt on Routes 11 and 1, Latti said.
“This is the first time we’ve been out this year,” Latti said, “but it’s certainly not the earliest we’ve had crews out.”
Town crews around Aroostook County were also out on the roads.
The National Weather Service had issued a winter weather advisory for most of Aroostook County effective from 6 a.m. Thursday through midnight.
Snow and sleet were forecast to continue through the early evening hours and then turn back into all snow with total accumulations ranging from 1 inch in southern Aroostook to up to 5 inches in the higher elevations in the St. John Valley.
For many the season’s first significant storm was a sign of things to come and mechanics in garages such as Twin’s Service in Fort Kent were busy putting studded tires on vehicles.
“It’s about the same as every year with people coming in at the last minute,” garage owner Dick Daigle said. “The first couple of storms we get pretty piled up in here.”
Temperatures across the region are expected to rise back up into the mid-40s by the middle of next week.