GRAY, Maine — A winter storm forecast to dump up to 15 inches of snow on parts of the state blew into Maine on Wednesday.
Winter storm warnings were issued throughout the state, including all of Oxford, Franklin and Somerset counties, according to the National Weather Service in Gray. Winter weather advisories were issued for Penobscot, Piscataquis, Aroostook, Hancock and Washington counties, according to the weather service.
“We have advisories posted everywhere immediately north of coastal Maine areas,” said Vic Nouhan, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service office in Caribou. “We’ll be seeing about 2 to 4 inches in interior Down East Maine and 1 to 2 for coastal Down East, due to a mixing effect of mixed precipitation.”
The storm, expected to last into Thursday, could bring between 5 and 15 inches of fresh snow.
“I want to say 4 to 8 inches pretty much everywhere north of Down East Maine,” Nouhan said.
“The intensity of the snowfall is losing strength, but the duration hasn’t been affected as it is still persisting with a lot of staying power,” Nouhan added.
In York County, Maine State Police Sgt. Robert Nichols said a handful of cars were off the road, but that road crews “are out doing a good job on the roads.”
He added, “We would just remind people to slow down and take their time.”
Portland police Lt. James Sweatt said at 6:30 p.m. that the city was seeing ”mostly rain, but the wind is creating difficulties.”
“It’s kind of business as usual, standard stuff,” Sweatt said.
Just up the coast, however, roads were slippery, and Freeport police went to the scene of two crashes just after 6 p.m., one on Route 1 and the other on Route 125.
“The storm itself isn’t as bad as we heard, but the roads are really slippery,” Brunswick police Lt. Todd Ridlon said just after 6 p.m.
In Bath, close to a dozen children continued to bike and skateboard at the Bath Skate Park, which director Cassandra Brown said would stay open until its normal closing time of 9 p.m.
“Once we were already here, I was like, ‘I’m not going to make these kids leave,’” she said. “It’s not the busiest day we’ve had, but at the same time, it gives them something to do and they have an outlet to get that energy out.”
While snow was falling in southern and central Maine early Wednesday evening, state police haven’t had to deal with many accidents on the Maine Turnpike.
By 6 p.m., weather service staff meteorologist Steve Capriola said the total snow accumulation ranged from 1 to 14 inches.
“We still have the same warnings up. The highest amounts will be in the foothills from Fryeburgh on up to Sunday River and into Skowhegan,” Capriola said. “You’ll see about 6 to 8 inches in the mountains — Jackman and Rangeley — and 6 to 10 in the Augusta, Lewiston and Bridgton areas.
“Getting near the coast it’s 2 to 6. The closer you get to the coast, the lesser the accumulation.”
The storm should taper off around midnight in southern areas and should do the same thing around 6 a.m. Thursday in central and northeast Maine.
“Down in our area we are starting to see some changeover [from rain] to snow and starting to see some accumulation,” Brown said from the weather service’s Gray office. “Heavier bands are moving in.”
Flights at the state’s two major airports were mostly on schedule.
Only two scheduled Wednesday flights out of Portland International Jetport, a 9:15 a.m. departure to Philadelphia and a 5 p.m. flight to Toronto, were canceled. All flights from Bangor International Airport departed as scheduled.
A full list of cancellations can be viewed at bangordailynews.com/closings.
BDN writers Beth Brogan and Andrew Neff contributed to this report.