Maine braced for a hard-hitting winter storm named Quinn on Wednesday that forecasters said would blanket the state overnight and into Thursday with more than a foot of wet, heavy snow.
School departments, town offices and businesses across the state decided in advance of the storm to close Thursday.
Snow reached the southwest corner of Maine during the late afternoon and was set to hit Greater Bangor mid-evening, according to the National Weather Service. The snow was expected to start as light and fluffy but develop into heavy, wet flakes by the time night falls and the storm reaches Bangor, forecasters said.
“It won’t take long to get going,” said Donny Dumont, a forecaster with the weather service in Caribou, explaining that the storm will intensify overnight.
That will make for a dangerous Thursday morning commute, he said, as the rapidly falling snow causes roadways to become slushy and creates a whiteout of poor visibility. Between 3 a.m. and 9 a.m. Thursday, snow is predicted to fall at a rate of 1 inch to 1.5 inches per hour, added Margaret Curtis, a forecaster with the weather service in Gray.
Bangor was expected to get between 4 to 8 inches overnight, with another 3 to 7 inches during the day Thursday, according to the NWS. Meanwhile, Portland was expected to receive between 9 to 13 inches overnight and an additional 3 to 7 inches on Thursday.
The weather service expanded a winter storm warning for nearly the entire state — including Washington and southern Aroostook counties — except for the far northern areas along the Canadian border, where a less severe winter storm advisory is in place. All of neighboring New Hampshire is also under a storm warning.
The storm warning advised of wind gusts as high as 50 mph along Maine’s coast. The weather service additionally issued a coastal flood warning for York County from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Thursday, saying splash-over and beach erosion are likely and minor coastal flooding is possible.
After the storm peaks Thursday morning, snow is expected to continue falling in Bangor until after dark. The precipitation will die off earlier in the south, but snow will keep falling in the north until Saturday, Dumont said.
Elsewhere, the storm had already unloaded snow at a rate of 2 or 3 inches an hour earlier Wednesday, with some places in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut getting up to 16 inches by evening. Gusts up to 60 mph were forecast on Cape Cod, 45 mph at the Jersey shore and 30 mph around suburban Philadelphia.
The wind knocked gobs of slush and snow off buildings and trees in Philadelphia and New York, forcing pedestrians to watch out. Across the region, power lines and tree branches sagged precariously under the weight of the wet show. Suburban streets were littered with downed trees and branches.
More than 2,600 flights across the Northeast — about 1,900 in the New York metro area alone — were canceled.
A teacher was struck by lightning while holding an umbrella on bus duty outside a school in Manchester Township, New Jersey, police said. The woman felt a tingling sensation but didn’t lose consciousness. She was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.
Amtrak canceled some train service, and commuter trains in Philadelphia and New Jersey were put on an abbreviated schedule. School districts and government offices from Delaware northward closed, and the governors of New Jersey and Pennsylvania declared states of emergency.
Back in Maine, less snow will fall along the immediate coast, where closer to 6 inches is expected, Dumont said.
The greatest snowfall accumulations are predicted in the mountainous Moosehead and Katahdin regions, where up to a foot and a half of snow could fall, he said.
Central Maine Power said it was prepared for the storm, which is expected to lead to outages as wind gusts and snow cause tree limbs to come in contact with power lines.
The company positioned personnel and equipment ahead of the storm “to ensure that adequate resources are in place to restore power outages that might occur,” it said in a press release.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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