Storm dumps foot of snow over St. John Valley

Northern Maine residents were dealing with up to a foot of snow that fell over the region Wednesday. By early afternoon the snow had tapered off with forecasters calling for another inch or so over night into Thursday
Julia Bayly
Northern Maine residents were dealing with up to a foot of snow that fell over the region Wednesday. By early afternoon the snow had tapered off with forecasters calling for another inch or so over night into Thursday Buy Photo
By Julia Bayly, BDN Staff
Posted Feb. 20, 2013, at 2:17 p.m.

FORT KENT, Maine — Residents in northern Maine were digging out from under a foot of snow that fell Wednesday morning.

By early afternoon, the storm had tapered off to a few flurries with the National Weather Service calling for an additional inch or so overnight as the last of the storm passes through.

“The higher amounts were up north,” said Paul Fitzsimmons, meteorologist with the Caribou office of the National Weather Service. “Fort Kent got 12 inches even [and] in Bangor it was mainly a rain event that did change over to snow for a bit.”

In other areas around northern Maine, 9 inches were reported in St. Agatha, a foot in Madawaska and 6 inches in Caribou.

This was good news for people who depend on snow for activities.

“This just means our trails that were already great are going to be even better,” Beurmond Banville, president of the Can Am Sled Dog Race board of directors, said Wednesday morning. “This is going to add some padding to what was already a hard base.”

The Can Am will kick off soon, with mushers and dogs leaving the start line in Fort Kent on Saturday, March 2, for the annual 30-, 60- and 250-mile races.

“We have plenty of snow,” Banville said. “Crews have been out there since December working on trails and this [new snow] is just great for us.”

County snowmobilers also were celebrating the new snow on Wednesday. Sections of some trails in open fields had been looking a bit bare because of recent warm temperatures and rain.

“This particular snow today is particularly helpful,” Kathy Mazzuchelli, director of the Caribou Parks and Recreation Department, said Wednesday. “It is going to give the grooming projects something to jump on tonight.”

Mazzuchelli said she had been fielding calls and emails all day from people looking to come north to ride.

“I’ve told people to take off their snow dancing shoes and put on their riding boots because the trails are going to be in great shape,” she said. “This is going to be a great end of the month and early March for snowmobiling.”

Big snows are not all fun and games, however, as Maine Department of Transportation crews were busy clearing roads.

“Things are looking a lot better now than they did this morning,” Robert Watson, MDOT regional manager in Presque Isle, said early Wednesday afternoon. “The roads are now clearing up fairly well.”

Early in the storm, Watson said the snow was falling so hard that roads were filling up within 20 or so minutes of a plow truck clearing them.

“We had a lot of phone calls from people saying their roads had not seen a truck yet,” he said. “The way it was falling, if a truck went by, 20 minutes later it looked as if nothing had been done.”

At the height of the storm, Watson said, 35 trucks were on the roads between Lincoln and the St. John Valley.

“South of Houlton it was mostly rain and now I am worried about standing water,” Watson said. “That’s just one of the things that makes winter road maintenance interesting.”

The next chance for snow could come from a system the National Weather Service is watching for late Saturday into Sunday.

“That may bring snow into the Down East areas,” Fitzsimmons said.

“This is just great for us,” Banville said. “I had told people I wanted a foot of snow and that’s about what we got. Apparently I have some power, but I am not sure how.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/02/20/news/aroostook/storm-dumps-foot-of-snow-over-st-john-valley/ printed on July 23, 2014