Southern, central Maine see 10 or more inches of snow in weekend storm

Billy Damon, Makayla Gordon and Ben Waite pilot a small boat through Stonington Harbor on their way to fill lobster boats with bait from Damon Lobster Co. on Sunday during a snowstorm.
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Billy Damon, Makayla Gordon and Ben Waite pilot a small boat through Stonington Harbor on their way to fill lobster boats with bait from Damon Lobster Co. on Sunday during a snowstorm. Buy Photo
By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff
Posted Feb. 24, 2013, at 11:20 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — By late Sunday afternoon, the third weekend storm in as many weeks already had dumped 10 inches of snow in parts of the state.

The National Weather Service’s Gray office had predicted accumulations of 8-10 inches of snow in southern and central Maine during the earlier part of Sunday. Much of the rest of New England was spared, coping only with a slushy mix.

The snow was heavy at times, especially during the late morning and early afternoon hours.

The prospect of upwards of half a foot of snow prompted the cancellation or postponement of dozens of church services, classes, workshops, bingo games and the closure of libraries and a handful of businesses. In addition, the University of Maine at Augusta was closed.

A deep, low-pressure system near the Four Corners borders of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah had stalled Sunday, dumping heavy snow in eastern Colorado, the weather service reported.

Nearly a foot of snow had fallen in the foothills west of Denver by early Sunday afternoon.

Boston’s Logan airport reported only minor delays, except for flights to storm-socked Denver, and major regional utilities NStar and National Grid reported only scattered outages.

About 200 flights out of Denver International Airport were canceled, spokeswoman Laura Coale said. The airport remained open but travelers could expect delays of up to two hours as crews de-iced departing aircraft and plowed the runways, Coale said. The airport typically handles about 1,500 flights on any Sunday.

The NWS warned that Sunday’s wet, heavy snow could make for treacherous travel conditions and could bring down tree limbs and power lines in some areas. While no widespread power outages were reported, there were dozens of accidents from Greater Bangor south to Kittery.

As heavy slushy snow began to accumulate on streets and roads early Sunday afternoon, vehicles began sliding off Interstate 95 and local and state roadways — some of them into ditches, utility poles and each other. There also were a couple of rollovers, including one in Veazie.

Weather forecasters warned motorists to be prepared for icy conditions once temperatures begin dropping at sundown.

Stillwater Avenue in Old Town and Orono was particularly slippery, with several accidents reported in that area, a Penobscot County dispatcher noted.

Mike Kistner, a NWS meteorologist based in Gray, said that the general forecast for central and southern Maine called for 6-10 inches. In the coastal plain and foothills, however, 8-12 inches were possible, he said.

Kistner said that while the totals were still trickling in late Sunday afternoon, it appeared that Androscoggin, Cumberland and Kennebec counties had some of highest snow accumulations.

He said Cumberland Center, Westbrook and Richmond all had at least 10 inches as of midafternoon, and he expected Durham, Winslow, Augusta and Turner could also hit the 10-inch mark.

“This is more of a southern system,” Margaret Curtis, another NWS meteorologist based in Gray, said Sunday of the storm.

The storm arrived in the form of rain in southern coastal Maine that began switching to snow by about 8 a.m., Curtis said.

Meanwhile, a winter weather advisory was put into effect for Somerset, Penobscot, Piscataquis and Hancock counties through midnight Sunday, according to the NWS’s Caribou office.

While the NWS reported that Newport had seen 5 inches of snow as of Sunday afternoon, totals were lower to the north, meteorologist Mike Bloomer of the NWS’s Caribou office said.

“The farther north you are, the less [moisture] there is,” Bloomer said.

Parts of Penobscot County got about an inch of snow overnight Saturday into Sunday, and that was topped by another 1-2 inches from late morning through midafternoon. The midcoast area, including Bar Harbor, got what Bloomer described as coating of snow.

“It’s starting to pull out now,” he said Sunday as he consulted weather radar imagery. “It looks like it pretty much over, other than some residual clouds and moisture.”

The snow was a welcome sight for farms in eastern Colorado, which has been in the grip of a multiyear drought.

Areas south and east of Denver on the plains were under a blizzard warning with steady snowfall and high winds forecast throughout the day, the weather service said.

Bloomer and Kistner both said the weather could get interesting again by midweek, as a large, complex weather system makes its way to the region, bringing a potential for more snow and wind and possible enough warm air to cause precipitation in the Down East area to switch to rain.

“But it’s really too early to tell,” Bloomer said.

“There’s still uncertainty,” Kistner agreed. “We’ll just have to watch it over the next couple of days.”

Keith Coffman of Reuters contributed to this story.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/02/24/news/state/weekend-storm-expected-to-drop-6-10-inches-in-southern-central-maine/ printed on July 29, 2014