GRAY and CARIBOU, Maine — Meteorologists are expecting Tuesday’s approaching storm to dump 10 to 18 inches of snow on southern Maine, but not as much on central and northern Maine areas, which should see no more than 8 to 12 by the time it winds down on Wednesday night in Aroostook County.
“It’s not a blizzard by any means. This is a pretty standard snowstorm,” Mike Ekster, staff meteorologist at the National Weather Service station in Gray, said Monday evening.
This storm typifies this entire winter’s pattern, as the Portland area and the rest of southern Maine will feel the brunt of it with the highest accumulation.
“We’re already over the normal average accumulation of snow in Portland for the winter,” said Ekster. “We’re actually 33 inches above normal for this date with 88.2 inches. We’re supposed to be around 55 for this point in time, with the average total being 60.”
By contrast, Bangor’s average total for this time of the year is 58.4 inches, according to NWS Caribou station meteorologist Mark Bloomer. Currently, the total stands a bit more than 5 inches higher than normal at 63.6.
Aroostook County’s total is actually lower than normal — 4.1 inches lower — with a current total at 90.5 and the normal average being 94.6.
“There have been a lot of large storms developing near Cape Cod and then exiting south toward Nova Scotia, so central and northern Maine have been spared more snow,” Bloomer explained.
Two years ago, April Fool’s Day took on a whole new relevance with almost a foot of snow dumped on Maine and New Hampshire on April 1.
“This is entirely normal for us, even right into the first half of April,” said Bloomer. “March is one of our snowiest months and a stormy month for winter weather, even with temps starting to rise.”
Both Ekster and Bloomer pointed out that one year ago this week, Mainers were basking in warmth, with temperatures ranging into the 70s and low 80s.
Generally speaking, snowfall in late winter/early spring has been mild in recent years.
“I think we’ve kind of gotten spoiled the last few years,” Ekster said.
Mainers from Kittery to Madawaska won’t be feeling too spoiled Tuesday and Wednesday.
Southern Maine will see the first of the snow, starting around midnight Monday. Bangor should start seeing noticeable snowfall around 7 to 8 a.m. Tuesday. Aroostook County areas will see flakes about 12 hours later around 7 p.m.
“This is resulting from an area of precipitation pushing up against a high pressure area in Eastern Canada,” said Bloomer, who added that it should produce a fairly dry snow and not the wet, sticky snow that plays havoc with utility poles and power lines.
Due to a mixing with rain and sleet on the coast, those areas in central and eastern Maine will generally see about 4 inches less of snow accumulation, with two inches less in southern Maine. Higher elevations and mountain areas will see slightly more snowfall.
The storm will start light and pick up in intensity.
“The heaviest snowfall will occur during the afternoon Tuesday in central areas like Augusta, Waterville and Bangor, and continue into the evening, lessening during the late night hours,” said Bloomer. “Northern Maine will see the heaviest snowfall around late evening and continuing overnight.”
Portland will get hit hardest Tuesday afternoon.
“We could see 1-2 inches an hour for a couple hours. Our evening commute won’t be so nice,” Ekster said.
Bangor should see an end to any noticeable snowfall by Wednesday morning and Aroostook County areas by Wednesday afternoon.
Winds shouldn’t be much of a factor in this storm, as they are expected to be no more than 10-15 miles per hour with gusts topping out at 25-30 mph.
So what are the odds this will be the last significant snow storm of the season?
“Given the fact it’s the 19th, it’s very possible, but the weather pattern currently in place in North America is still more conducive than normal for winter storms this time of year, so anything’s possible,” Ekster said.