CARIBOU, Maine — Snow that began falling in Aroostook County just after noon Tuesday continued to fall heavily Wednesday evening, making for what no doubt will be an even whiter Christmas in the region.
The National Weather Service in Caribou issued a winter storm warning Wednesday in far northern areas including Madawaska and Fort Kent, where total accumulations were more than a foot by midafternoon. The weather service Web site posted an unofficial snowfall of 22 inches in Fort Kent about 9 p.m. with overnight ac-cumulations of less than an inch forecast.
Lesser amounts of snow were observed by weather spotters in Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Hancock and Washington counties.
Mel Walker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Wednesday afternoon that a low-pressure system moved into the area and remained stationary over northern and central Maine.
“It has been stationary since late on Tuesday evening,” he said. “It is expected to taper off late tonight and should be out of here completely by Christmas Eve, although there will be a few snow showers in some areas.”
By 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, 16 inches had fallen in Madawaska, 13 inches in Presque Isle, and 10 inches in Houlton.
Towns on the border of Aroostook and Penobscot counties also saw significant snowfall. Mount Chase had picked up 15 inches by evening and Patten had 13 inches by midafternoon, according to the latest unofficial totals available on the weather service Web site Wednesday night.
In other parts of Penobscot County, Millinocket had 6 inches and Old Town had an inch.
In Piscataquis County, snowfall totals varied widely. A foot of snow was recorded in Chesuncook, while only 2.5 inches fell in Greenville Junction. Just an inch was on the ground in Abbot by 3 p.m.
In Washington County, Danforth had picked up 10 inches by late afternoon, while 8 inches was recorded in Vanceboro and Topsfield. Baileyville saw 6 inches, while an inch had fallen in Jonesboro.
Lighter amounts also fell in western Maine’s mountains, which got 1 to 3 inches.
No more than flurries were reported in Ellsworth.
The Bangor area escaped the brunt of this particular storm, experiencing only patchy freezing drizzle on Tuesday night and light snow Wednesday evening.
Dispatchers at the state police barracks in Orono and the Penobscot Regional Communications Center in Bangor said no serious storm-related problems had arisen on either day.
Most public works crews in Aroostook County had been out since late Tuesday evening and schools, most of which had been scheduled for just a half day before Christmas break, were canceled Wednesday.
Due to the heavy snow, state government offices in Aroostook County opened two hours late.
Despite the weather, it was a busy day before Christmas Eve in several County stores.
“We are still busy, despite the weather,” John Billings, the manager of the Wal-Mart in Houlton, said Wednesday afternoon. “People are digging out and coming in.”
He added that while most people were shopping for Christmas gifts, others had waited until the last minute to get a snow shovel.
A store associate at Marden’s in Presque Isle said the store was “packed.” It was equally busy at the Aroostook Centre Mall in Presque Isle, according to a Kmart employee.
Police said they had received few reports of cars off the road or accidents. Three people were injured in a two-car crash on snowy Route 1 north of Presque Isle.
BDN reporters Bill Trotter in Ellsworth and Dawn Gagnon in Bangor and The Associated Press contributed to this report.