Ice storm knocks out power to thousands in Maine; more freezing rain to come Monday

Posted Dec. 22, 2013, at 9:54 a.m.
Last modified Dec. 23, 2013, at 6:53 a.m.

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Utility crews battled icy conditions late Sunday night as they attempted to restore power to about 11,000 people as the weekend ice storm moved through the state. The National Weather Service said another system will contribute to the misery of Monday morning commuters.

Bangor Hydro had more than 18,000 people in Hancock and Washington counties without power early Sunday, reduced the total number of outages to around 6,000 in the late evening and was back up to around 7,000 Monday morning. Those two counties were hardest hit with ice accumulation, according to the National Weather Service in Caribou.

“The heaviest amounts of ice in reports we’ve gotten is in Washington County,” said meteorologist Paul Fitzsimmons. “Machias reported a half inch of ice accretion. Roque Bluffs also reported a half inch of ice. Those are the most significant amounts so far.”

There were numerous reports of a half inch of ice through areas of Hancock and Washington counties, according to meteorologist Corey Bogel.

Bangor has seen mostly sleet from the storm, according to Fitzsimmons. There was a total of 1.5 to 2 inches of snow and sleet combination, said Bogel.

A freezing rain advisory for much of Down East and southern Penobscot County will continue into Monday afternoon.

“The real concern is [Monday], where steady freezing rain will” hit Down East, said Bogel. “It won’t be as bad as [Sunday].”

North of Bangor, there is a winter weather advisory, except for northern Aroostook County for Monday. There will be a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain through Monday afternoon, according to Bogel.

Not all areas were getting freezing rain. Many areas in northern Penobscot County and Aroostook County reported snowfall of up to 9 inches. Unofficial reports indicated 4.5 inches in Patten, 6 inches in Presque Isle and 9 inches in Sherman.

Most travelers appear to be staying off the roads as few traffic accidents have been reported in the counties hardest hit by ice.

Washington County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Supervisor Richard Moore said there were no reports of vehicle crashes by early Sunday afternoon.

“The fact that we haven’t had an accident and there are no calls on conditions of Route 9, I’d say there aren’t many people on the roads,” said Moore. “There’s been no accidents, but people are dealing with the inconvenience of power outages.”

A Maine State Police dispatcher said there were only three reports of vehicle crashes from 7 a.m. to early afternoon Sunday in four counties — Penobscot, Piscataquis, Hancock and Washington.

The Bangor Police Department warned residents not to park along roadways on Sunday. Vehicles may be towed if parked on any street in Bangor after midnight. There is also a parking ban in downtown Bangor on Sunday night.

By early Monday morning, Central Maine Power reported 488 ourags, down from about 4,300 the night before. Bangor Hydro had 6,963 outages and Maine Public Service had 1,485, with most of those in Penobscot County.

“All available crews have been working through the day to restore power today, after coastal areas of the state became blanketed with up to three-quarters of an inch of ice,” said Bob Potts, spokesman for Bangor Hydro. “Additional crews from areas with a lower impact have been sent to assist in those efforts. Crews are working in slick travel conditions, which is slowing restoration time. As inclement weather continues, additional power outages may slow restoration efforts further. Outages are also widespread and in remote areas in some cases. Customers can help by ensuring roadways are well-sanded.”

Residents are reminded never to touch a power line or trees that may be touching a power line.

In contrast, southern New England and New York saw unseasonable temperatures, said Bogel.

New York City reached 70 degrees and areas in central Massachusetts were in the 60s, he said. Meanwhile, Bangor was in the 30s on Sunday, while areas Down East were in the mid-20s.

The CMP’s outage hot line is 800-696-1000. Bangor Hydro’s outage number is 800-440-1111. Maine Public Service customers should call 877-655-4448.