Blizzard could dump as much as 20 inches of snow on Down East Maine

Posted March 25, 2014, at 4:55 p.m.
Last modified March 26, 2014, at 10:27 a.m.
Dick Quint, director of public utilities for Eastport, loads a plow truck with sand on Tuesday afternoon in preparation for a winter storm that was forecast to strike overnight.
Tim Cox | BDN
Dick Quint, director of public utilities for Eastport, loads a plow truck with sand on Tuesday afternoon in preparation for a winter storm that was forecast to strike overnight. Buy Photo
Eastport waterfront was a picture of calm before the storm on Tuesday afternoon before gathering winter storm clouds began moving into the region.
Tim Cox | BDN
Eastport waterfront was a picture of calm before the storm on Tuesday afternoon before gathering winter storm clouds began moving into the region. Buy Photo

EASTPORT, Maine — Washington County and eastern Hancock County will bear the brunt of a winter storm bearing down on the Northeast, the National Weather Service said Tuesday.

And the eastern edge of the region is the area that will feel most of the sting from the storm’s lash, said Victor Nouhan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Caribou.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for coastal Hancock and Washington counties for a winter storm expected to move into the region early Wednesday morning.

The warning is in effect from 6 a.m. Wednesday through midnight.

In addition, northern Washington County and inland Hancock County are under a winter storm warning, according to the weather service.

Five to 8 inches of snow are expected to fall in Hancock County, with 12-20 inches forecast for Washington County. Travel is not recommended.

Nouhan described a section of Washington County roughly from Machias on the coast, north to Wesley, northeast to Vanceboro and southeast to Eastport as the area that will be hit hardest.

That area “looks to be close to the relative ground zero for the biggest impact in our area,” he said.

And the eastern edge of that portion of Washington County — including Eastport, the easternmost city in the U.S. — is in for the worst of the storm, said Nouhan. That edge will get 10 to 15 inches of snow and the strongest winds, he said — 25 to 35 mph with gusts as high as 60 mph, he predicted.

“Real, legitimate blizzard conditions are a real concern there,” said Nouhan.

“Essentially, we’re just going to treat it as a one-day nor’easter, and we’ll go from here,” said Eastport City Manager Larry Post.

Post was in the process of checking the latest forecast in the afternoon and planned to meet with key city officials later — the director of public utilities, fire chief and representatives of the police department and sewer department.

Dick Quint, director of public works for Eastport, loaded the town’s two plow trucks with sand in the afternoon. The town also has a loader equipped with a plow for clearing snow. The trucks, which were to be rigged with chains, and loader will be fueled up, and maintenance will be performed on other equipment to get ready, he said.

The city already has used up 1,900 cubic yards of sand it ordered for the winter of 2013-14. Fortunately, it has some left over from previous years.

“This is what you call an old-fashioned winter,” said Quint.

Keeping the streets of Eastport clear of snow can be challenging, noted Quint. The city has many narrow roads and other streets that run up and down hills.

Boatswain’s Mate Chief Petty Officer Austin Olmstead, officer in charge of the Coast Guard station in Eastport, said crews tied up the two vessels with double lines as added protection against the windy forecast. The 25-foot and 45-foot response boats were topped off with fuel, too.

Coast Guard personnel may be called out after the storm to survey buoys in the region to ensure they have not blown off their station, said Olmstead.

Michael Hinerman, director of the Washington County emergency management agency, said Tuesday morning that he would contact towns — particularly coastal communities — to make sure they are aware of the impending winter storm. He planned to call officials in coastal towns and notify others via email after receiving the latest updates from the National Weather Service later.

“I suggest that you keep a close watch on future forecasts and review your response plans if the weather starts causing power outages and damages,” Hinerman said in an email to town officials later. “Travel will be very difficult and dangerous. This storm is still growing and it looks like the snowfall and winds may be higher than previously predicted.”

“It’s going to side-swipe us,” Hinerman said earlier of the storm. The areas that will be hit the hardest will be those furthest east, such as Lubec and Eastport, he said. “They stick out a little more to the east.”

The storm churning up the East Coast is expected to dump 4 to 8 inches of snow on Bangor, with lesser accumulations in points south and west, according to the weather service.

BDN writer Ryan McLaughlin contributed to this report.

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