CARIBOU, Maine — A winter storm that brought snow and high winds to parts of the state late Monday into Tuesday caused widespread power outages and whiteout conditions that made driving dangerous.
The storm also dumped significant snowfall on several communities.
A wind chill advisory remained in effect in several Maine counties throughout Tuesday and will continue through noon today, according to the National Weather Service in Caribou.
Significant amounts of snow were recorded in areas of Penobscot County, according to preliminary reports.
In Orono, 9 inches of snow was reported, while Veazie had 8.2 inches. In Bangor, nearly 6 inches had fallen by early afternoon.
Milo, in Piscataquis County, picked up 6.8 inches, while 3.5 inches was recorded in Guilford.
In Washington County, Alexander had 7 inches, while 6 inches fell in Topsfield.
In Aroostook County, snow fell sporadically throughout the day Tuesday, with preliminary reports indicating that the most snow fell in Sherman, where 4.5 inches was recorded. Monticello picked up 3.1 inches, Houlton had 2.5 inches, and Fort Kent had 1 inch.
Wind was a significant factor Tuesday afternoon, and gusts in the 40 to 50 mph range were felt in some areas.
A wind gust of 56 mph was recorded in Topsfield just before 2 p.m. Tuesday. Parts of Hancock County had wind gusts between 43 and 47 mph Tuesday afternoon.
There also were gusts of 48 mph in Frenchville, 47 mph in Cutler and 40 mph in Portland, according to the National Weather Service.
The wind downed power lines across the state and cut electricity to more than 15,000 customers.
Repair crews worked to restore power, but some customers in 18 towns served by Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. “are likely to remain without power overnight,” Susan Faloon, Bangor Hydro company spokeswoman, said Tuesday afternoon.
Those communities include: Amherst, Aurora, Clifton, Dedham, Lucerne, Enfield, Exeter, Garland, Glenburn, Holden, Hudson, Lee, Lincoln, Mariaville, Milo, Orono, Otis and Sebec.
At 5 p.m., Bangor Hydro had 4,793 customers without power, with about half of those in Hancock County and another 1,918 in Lincoln and Piscataquis counties.
Dave Phifer, spokesman for Central Maine Power, said high winds that picked up around 4 p.m. caused the number of CMP customer outages to increase drastically from the 2,183 reported earlier in the day.
“We’ve got 10,150,” he said just before 5 p.m. “The wind has brought down limbs and trees.”
The hardest-hit areas for CMP included Franklin County with 5,847 outages, followed by Waldo County with 2,692, Phifer said.
The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory and hazardous weather outlook for the region. Wednesday’s forecast for the Bangor area lists blustery winds of “between 16 and 22 mph, with gusts as high as 43 mph,” according to its Web site.
Customers who are without power should take measures to ensure their safety, and are encouraged to call their local fire departments if shelter is needed.
In Aroostook County, police dealt with a few cars off the road because of weather conditions. No accidents were reported.
Sgt. Paul Vincent of the Caribou Police Department said whiteout conditions were affecting motorists in some parts of the city. Police had assisted several motorists who had skidded off snow-covered roadways.
The Houlton Police Department assisted one driver whose car slid into a snowbank.
In Caribou, meteorologists with the National Weather Service said that strong northwest winds, in combination with bitter cold, would produce wind chills between 20 below and 30 below zero Tuesday night through Wednesday.
Temperatures are expected to remain very cold in the region for the next several days.
The National Weather Service is warning of the potential for a winter storm in eastern and northern Maine this holiday weekend.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.