LEWISTON, Maine — Early predictions of 4 to 7 inches for this weekend’s snowstorm quickly proved inadequate as the white stuff began falling Saturday afternoon and continued its descent throughout the night and all day Sunday.
By Sunday morning the National Weather Service had posted a winter storm warning, and by Sunday night meteorologists were forecasting a total of 10 to 14 inches by the time the storm winds down around midnight, bringing partly cloudy skies and temperatures approaching 40 to the region on Monday.
Many people were caught off-guard by the quantity of snow the storm brought and didn’t make last-minute trips to the grocery store, but officials reported no serious problems as public works crews and private companies worked to remove the heavy wet snow ahead of the work week.
Lewiston police said the slick roads kept most vehicles off the streets Sunday, leaving them to flocks of pedestrians diverted from snow-swamped sidewalks.
The attitudes of those braving the weather were surprisingly upbeat and even cheerful.
“I want to live in an igloo,” Ariana Vincent, 11, of Greene said. Vincent was just returning from a local store with a bag of candy for her storm provisions.
Inspired by a visit to the Ice Festival and the weather, Vincent said she has decided to spend the rest of her days in an igloo. She also was adamant that school should be canceled on Monday.
Nearby, Brian Wood and Foster McClure, both of Lewiston, were making quick work of a driveway. When asked about the weather, McClure responded, “I don’t like it, but I like making money.”
Wood said that the pair works the neighborhood together, shoveling driveways for $20 to $30 each.
“We shovel together,” Wood said, flinging a loaded shovel over his shoulder. He said that while this storm was no Nemo, it has kept the pair quite busy. Wood said that this was his first driveway with McClure, but he had shoveled several on his own.
At Bates College, student Larisa Collins, 21, of San Francisco crossed the cleared sidewalks of the campus with fellow student Meg Ogilvie, 20, of Mapledale, Mass.
“I love it,” Collins said. “I wish we could make snow angels.”
Ogilvie said she likes how the fresh snow makes everything look better.
Collins said she enjoys the snow but is concerned about the toll the Maine weather would take on her California car. After only a moment of concern, she brightened back up,
“It makes me feel like a little kid,” she said. “It makes you want to roll around in it.”
Another Bates student, Michael LaVallee, 22, of Gardiner, was a little more sanguine about the weather, “I’m from Maine, so it’s all the same to me.”
LaVallee said he and many of the other students take it all in stride this time of the year. “The first storm, some people were upset,” he said. Now LaVallee said they know what to expect.
LaVallee said that his parents, who were vacationing in the Caribbean, had to put their planned return on hold. He said that since this was being treated as just another Maine storm, his parents took little notice when booking their return flight.
It was only this morning, LaVallee said, that they were informed their flight from Philadelphia to Portland had been canceled.
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.
The weather service 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 weather 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 also couldhit the 10-inch mark.
“This is more of a southern system,” Margaret Curtis, another NWS meteorologist based in Gray, said Sunday of the storm.
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.
Dawn Gagnon of the Bangor Daily News and Keith Coffman of Reuters contributed to this story.