September 22, 2018
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Another ‘bomb cyclone’ could bring blizzard to eastern Maine

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
The Peaks Island ferry heads out on Tuesday morning across Portland Harbor as sea smoke rises around it. Sea smoke is formed when very cold air moves over warmer water.
By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff
Updated:

An unusual weather phenomenon known as “bombogenesis,” in which winds intensify suddenly over a 24-hour period, could again hit Maine this week, resulting in heavy amounts of snow for eastern regions, according to weather forecasters.

Maine most recently found itself in the crosshairs of such a storm, also known as a “bomb cyclone,” a little over two months ago, when strong winds toppled countless trees and knocked out power to nearly half a million Mainers.

This time around, the strong winds will find fewer leaves on trees but are projected to be accompanied by more than a foot of snow in eastern Maine. The center of the storm is expected to pass over western Nova Scotia, so the amount of snow it dumps on Maine is expected to be heaviest along the state’s southeastern border with New Brunswick.

Todd Foisy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Caribou, said Thursday’s storm is not expected to have as much of an impact as the “bomb cyclone” that struck in late October, which passed more directly over Maine. The potential track of this storm could pass over anywhere between Eastport and Halifax, Nova Scotia, he said, with the most likely scenario being somewhere in between.

Winds of 30 to 45 mph could be felt in much of Maine on Thursday, with stronger winds blowing in southern and eastern portions of the state, Foisy said Tuesday.

The NWS defines a blizzard as a snow storm with sustained wind or frequent gusts of 35 mph or greater and considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to less than a quarter mile.

“Blizzard conditions are a possibility, with the best chance being Down East,” Foisy said. “There is still some uncertainty.”

Representatives of Maine two major electricity distributors each said they are prepared for Thursday’s potential blizzard. Both Emera and Central Maine Power were criticized for the length of time it took to restore power to all their customers following the Oct. 30 storm.

“Our biggest concern with this storm is the extreme cold” that will follow the snowfall, said Tim Pease, Emera’s storm manager. “While we are preparing to respond to any outages safely and quickly, we encourage customers to monitor the forecast and take necessary precautions to stay warm and safe.”

Central Maine Power’s Gail Rice said the utility is concerned about the wind, especially in its service area between roughly Lincoln County and western Hancock County. She said CMP has notified all employees that they could be called in to respond to outages, and it has contacted other power companies in the Northeast to indicate it may need their help.

“Our trucks are all fueled and equipped,” Rice said.

The Down East region is expected to get between 10 and 15 inches of snow, according to NWS forecaster Vic Nouhan. Greater Bangor likely will get between 5 to 9 inches, starting late Thursday morning and winding down overnight into Friday morning.

“Most of the damage will be done in the afternoon,” Nouhan said.

Snow totals will taper west along the coast. Rockland could see between 8 to 10 inches, whereas Cumberland County will get between 4 and 6 inches, and York County between 3 to 5 inches, according to Andy Pohl, an NWS forecaster in Gray.

Snow amounts in the northern half of the state will vary but on average will be between 4 and 6 inches.

The lack of leaves on trees this time of year is expected to help minimize the amount of downed power lines resulting from the storm, according to Foisy, but snowfall likely will cause some outages and complicate travel conditions.

The storm is expected to intensify as it blows northeast Wednesday from the Carolinas toward eastern Massachusetts and to maintain its strength as it passes over the Gulf of Maine into Canada.

By Friday, the storm will have swept away Thursday’s warmer temperatures, dragging a wave of cold air that will send the state back into the single-digits and low teens throughout the weekend, forecasters said.

BDN writer Callie Ferguson contributed to this report.

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