State bracing for double dose of snow

Posted Dec. 31, 2009, at 2:23 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:37 a.m.

CARIBOU, Maine — Snow and wind are expected to put a damper on this holiday weekend, as a drawn-out storm could drop more than a foot of snow on some parts of the state before it moves out of the area on Sunday evening.

The National Weather Service in Caribou has issued a winter storm watch for most of the state, but meteorologist Ken Wallingford warned Thursday afternoon that forecasters are still uncertain about the full impact of the storm.

“We are still watching it,” he said from the Caribou office. “We have a general idea about what is going to happen, but we can’t tell with 100 percent certainty just yet. We won’t know its full impact until it gets closer.”

According to the Weather Service, low pressure will intensify southeast of the Gulf of Maine Friday through Saturday. The low will then move back toward the coast on Sunday and could bring significant snow to the region starting Friday and continuing through the weekend.

Wallingford said the storm was predicted to spread over Down East Maine and the Bangor area Thursday evening through Saturday morning.

“That will be the first wave of the storm,” he said. “That won’t be as big a deal as the second wave. The first wave should bring 6 to 7 inches to that area.”

After that ends, he said, a second system is expected to develop on Saturday.

“That will come in from the east and the southeast,” said Wallingford. “The most snow with the greatest intensity will fall late Saturday night into Sunday. We are predicting that between 8 inches and 12 inches of snow will fall across the entire state.”

Wallingford said wind will not be a significant factor during the first wave of the storm, but it will affect driving conditions when the second storm moves into the region.

“The wind is expected to pick up on Saturday night,” he said. “That is when we will see more blowing and drifting, and driving will become a lot more dangerous.”

The winter storm watch will remain in effect from Friday afternoon through late Sunday.

Forecasters are urging holiday travelers to keep a close eye on the situation.

In Houlton, residents were stocking up on shovels, food and entertainment to see them through the storm.

In the parking lot of the Houlton Wal-Mart, Gail McPherson was carrying a shovel, an ice scraper and some DVDs to her car.

“I broke my shovel during the last storm,” she said Thursday afternoon. “I don’t have plans to travel this weekend, and I doubt anything good will be on television. So I decided to come out and pick up a few movies to watch.”

Just a short distance away at Paradis Shop N’ Save, Ann Landry of Houlton was going inside to stock up on supplies.

“I figured that I should get groceries now, because I usually pick them up on Saturday,” she said. “Now, that doesn’t look like it will be such a good time to go shopping.”

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