Parts of Maine will have as much as 18 inches of snow on the ground by early Friday if a storm the National Weather Service is tracking holds course and hits the state on Thursday.
The storm headed to Maine developed from a powerful squall that spawned tornadoes from Texas to Alabama, killing at least six people and leaving thousands without power. It was expected to make landfall on southern New Jersey’s coast by midnight Wednesday, said Ken Wallingford, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Caribou.
The center of the storm is expected to be near Cape Cod by Thursday afternoon. By midnight Thursday, when the center closes on the western coast of Nova Scotia, northern Maine should be well on its way to receiving eight to 18 inches of snow, Wallingford said.
“It looks like a good old-fashioned nor’easter,” Wallingford said Wednesday. “Everybody will get a good swath of snow.”
Eight-inch accumulations of snow on Thursday, Wallingford said, will likely start in the Ellsworth area, but the coast will also see rain and some fairly heavy winds of 20 to 30 mph. Gusts will top out at around 50 mph in those coastal areas, he said.
“For folks on the immediate coast, this storm may have more wind than precipitation impact,” Wallingford said, “and when you get away from the coast, there will be the usual blowing and drifting, but we are not expecting blizzard conditions or anything like that.”
The heaviest accumulations will likely occur farthest north, in the Mount Katahdin, Greenville and Houlton areas, said Tim Duda, a weather service meteorologist.
Lesser accumulations of 2 to 6 inches will occur along the coast of Hancock and Washington counties. From Bangor east to Topsfield and Danforth, residents will likely get 10 to 14 inches. The Dover-Foxcroft, Lincoln Lakes regions and areas south of Houlton will likely get 14 to 18 inches of snow, Duda said.
All of this means fun for state snowmobilers and money for the snowmobile industry, said Bob Meyers, executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association.
Storms last week created snowmobiling conditions from Millinocket up to the Canadian border, if not bases upon which conditions can be built, Meyers said.
Volunteer trail groomers working for many MSA-affiliated clubs — the backbone of the state’s snowmobiling industry — have told Meyers they will be out on trails by this weekend creating good snowmobile conditions, he said.
“There is an excellent base in many areas and I think some people have mistaken the lack of activity [on snowmobile trails] with lack of snow,” Meyers said. “Some of the grooming took a back seat to Christmas, which is appropriate, but from what we are hearing, everybody is gearing up to be ready for New Year’s Eve weekend.”
Hollywood Casino Hotel and Raceway announced Wednesday that because of the snowstorm, a job fair scheduled for Thursday at the casino has been canceled and the facility’s Epic Buffet will be closed. The second night of the job fair scheduled for 5-9 p.m. Friday will take place as scheduled.
The Epic Buffet will reopen for regular hours beginning at 11 a.m. Friday, the casino said.
The Bloomberg news service contributed to this report.