December 19, 2018
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Storm to douse Maine with snow, sleet, rain and wind

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Remy, a chihuahua mix, wears booties while walking with his master, Miles Heise, during a steady snowfall in Portland Jan. 17. A mix of rain, snow and sleet is expected to cover much of Maine Monday night and early Tuesday.

A mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow was expected Monday evening before changing over to rain in most of Maine, as temperatures warm above 40 degrees on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather overnight was likely to make road conditions slick on Tuesday during the morning commute, forecasters said. Strong winds also are expected from late morning Tuesday through the evening, likely in the 20 mph to 35 mph range with gusts as high as 50 mph.

The rain on Tuesday also could result in floods in inland and coastal Maine due to ice jams forming in rivers and streams and blocking the flow of water. A flood watch has been issued for much of the state between the coast and as far inland as Bethel, Rumford, Dover-Foxcroft, Lincoln and Princeton.

Snow accumulation is expected to range from up to 12 inches in northern Aroostook County, with some ice and sleet mixing, to possibly 2 inches along the southern coast. Little rain is expected in far northern Maine. Portland could see an inch of snow overnight, with some sleet and freezing rain mixed in, before the switchover to rain later Tuesday morning.

Bangor was slated to see about 3 inches of snow by Tuesday morning — though much could be swept away by the ensuing rain.

“It doesn’t look to me like it’s going to be a real intense snowfall,” for most of the state, said Rich Norton, a forecaster with the NWS office in Caribou. But the precipitation may be enough to grease roadways and cause restricted visibility, he added.

Overnight, rising temperatures will transform the mild snow into a messy combination of ice and rain, posing hazards for drivers, Norton said. Steady rain will start falling in Bangor around 9 a.m. and will fall all day. The freezing precipitation overnight and early Tuesday morning will glaze surfaces, though with not enough ice to cause widespread power outages, he said.

From roughly Dover-Foxcroft north to Mars Hill, approximately half a foot of snow is predicted. In the west, from Milo to Millinocket, about 5 to 7 inches will collect, Norton said. Moving east, toward Houlton, about 8 inches is predicted.

Inland cities such as Lewiston, Waterville and Augusta will see totals in the 3- to 5-inch range, said Tom Hawley, an NWS forecaster in Gray.

In advance of the precipitation, the weather service issued a winter weather advisory for the entire state, except for the far north, where a more severe winter storm warning has been issued. The advisory was scheduled to take effect at 4 p.m. Monday in southern, western and midcoast Maine and at 10 p.m. Monday in eastern coastal and inland Maine.

The advisory is expected to expire as the precipitation switches over to rain on Tuesday, first along the coast and then further inland later in the day.

What could be more destructive, but is less certain, is flooding caused by ice jams Tuesday afternoon, forecasters said. Last week, an ice jam along the Kennebec River caused flooding for a few days in low-lying areas along the river Hallowell and Augusta.

While the floodwaters have since receded — on Monday, the river was just 2 feet below the flood stage — “there may be enough rain to cause flooding issues” Tuesday afternoon, Hawley said. In anticipation of the worst, Augusta police kept the Front Street parking lot, which flooded last week, closed.

The weather service is also monitoring the Brownville area along the Piscataquis River and the Pleasant River just south of Milo for potential flooding, Norton said.

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