PORTLAND, Maine — Another wave of precipitation on Monday clubbed Maine communities facing what could still be weeks of cleanup in the aftermath of the weekend’s record-setting blizzard.
Despite earlier predictions that the weekend’s cold air would continue to stand its ground and keep Monday’s precipitation in the form of snow, the downfall shifted into rain and sleet by the early afternoon in Portland. The wetter weather tempered snow accumulation forecasts, which at one point had been as high as 4 more inches Monday, but weighed down snowbanks and provided new complications for crews trying to clear roadways and sidewalks.
Weather forecasters do have good news for Mainers weary of the recent battery of precipitation, however. Meteorologist Tom Hawley of the National Weather Service’s Gray office said Monday that the skies are predicted to clear. and temperatures are expected to range from the upper 30s to the mid-40s for the rest of the week and into Saturday.
“It should be getting milder out,” he said.
Monday’s snow and rain came on the heels of a snowstorm that battered Maine on Friday and Saturday, bringing a record 31.9 inches to Portland and 35.5 inches to nearby Gorham.
Portland called for a partial parking ban to start at 10 p.m. Monday, the fourth straight night the city has restricted parking as crews seek to clear snow from the paths of vehicles and pedestrians alike.
“We’re estimated that clearing all the sidewalks will take us a couple of weeks,” said city spokeswoman Nicole Clegg. “We clear 100 miles of sidewalks, with our priority areas being school areas and the downtown areas, and major arterials.”
Clegg said city trucks move the snow to one of several storage locations — vacant lots on West Commercial Street and Somerset Street, the wide median area of Franklin Street, and a salt and sand storage site on outer Congress Street.
She said city crews, which are also clearing catch basins, are wary of additional precipitation Monday. The fresh snow is expected to be wetter and “add weight” to the accumulation already needing removal, she said.
“This has been a phenomenal undertaking,” Clegg said. “This is going to take us some time.”
Tim Dryden of real estate firm Commercial Properties found himself shoveling the brick sidewalks near the company’s 4 Canal Plaza building in Portland for the third time in four days. He said his crew was prepared for the blizzard, and was ready for the follow-up precipitation as well.
“Anybody out here shoveling needs to realize they’re in the wrong profession if they’re not equipped for this,” he said.
Further up the coast, Bath City Manager Bill Giroux said public works crews, which worked throughout the night Saturday and Sunday, will be back on the streets again around midnight Monday clearing tons of snow from the city’s streets.
The bulk of the snow is moved behind the public works garage on Oak Grove Avenue or underneath the viaduct beneath the Sagadahoc Bridge.
Fire department and Bath Water District employees spent the day shoveling fire hydrants, Giroux said. And on Monday morning, Front Street merchants cleared the sidewalks outside their stores.
“The guys are doing a fantastic job,” he said. “It was quite a storm.”
In Rockland, Public Works Director Greg Blackwell said that cleanup of streets and sidewalks will take all week. He said crews went out Sunday night at 6 and stopped at noon Monday. The crews were able to plow a path for children to walk to school on busy Broadway and spent many hours downtown.
The city spent $9,000 thus far in equipment rental to handle snow removal from this storm and his annual budget for equipment rental was now depleted. He said the overtime budget is half spent but that has been kept down because employees had taken compensatory time earlier. He said he expects that will skyrocket with the continued cleanup and any additional storms this winter.
Rockland has a license from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to dispose of snow in Rockland Harbor off the city-owned fish pier.
Maine Water Company reported 14 inches of snow at its Mirror Lake reporting station in West Rockport, although 24 inches was recorded in Rockland. Blackwell said it was the most difficult storm he has dealt with since first joining the city in 1991.
On Monday morning, Bangor continued to dig itself out from under the nearly 20 inches of snow that fell on and blew around the city during the storm. Public Works announced a parking ban for the downtown parking management district, from 11 p.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday. Vehicles parked on the street during those hours may be towed at the owners’ expense.
Public Works Director Dana Wardwell said the city would continue to remove snow from parking lots by day and from downtown streets and sidewalks by night. Wardwell said 36 employees worked 40 hours straight during the storm, but the work isn’t over.
During the day, about 20 loads of snow will be trucked out of the city per hour, with 10-15 more at night when crews don’t have to contend with traffic, Wardwell said. The snow is hauled to a snow dump near Hampden’s Hamlin Marina. The process is more difficult when crews have to contend with vehicles parked in parking ban zones. On Friday night, the city towed away 19 vehicles, Wardwell said, adding that he wasn’t sure how many were towed on Saturday night.
Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. crews also were dealing with multiple power outages, with more than 13,000 customers without power at about 1:15 p.m. in Washington County.
Company crews rerouted service to nearly all of those affected and reported only 175 people without power by 4 p.m. in Hancock and Penobscot counties.
Company spokesman Bob Potts said the problem in Washington County was not caused by the weather but coincidental equipment failure in Steuben. He warned county residents that service would be interrupted again in the eventing for maybe three to four hours as crews repaired the main line feeding the region.
In southern Maine, Central Maine Power Co. reported that 420 of its customers were out of power just before 4 p.m. Monday. The majority of those without electricity — 252 — were in Lincoln County.
BDN staff writers Beth Brogan, Stephen Betts, Tom Walsh, Ryan McLaughlin and Nick McCrea contributed to this report.