The wintry chill that has gripped Maine for much of the past week is expected to ease beginning today but will be followed by wet and windy conditions, according to weather forecasters.
Monday’s forecast calls for temperatures starting off well below average for much of the state with the mercury barely topping 10 degrees from Bangor north. The typical low in Bangor for this time of the year is 27 degrees.
But by midday, the temperature could creep up to the lower 30s for Bangor and into the upper 30s for southern Maine, according to the National Weather Service.
But the weather system that is allowing for more seasonable temperatures will also bring powerful winds, rain and, in some areas, additional snow today and Tuesday.
Mark Bloomer, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Caribou, said southern areas likely will receive rain, while central and northern Maine could get a mix of rain and snow. Bloomer said Sunday night it was still unclear how far north and east the precipitation would extend.
“The main thing we are sure about is we are going to have some strong winds Tuesday into Tuesday night,” Bloomer said. Gusts could reach 45 mph or higher in some areas, according to the service.
The storm that swept through the region during the weekend dumped 1 to 2 inches of snow on most areas. Caribou and the Washington County town of Whiting reported the largest accumulations at 2½ inches.
But Saturday’s snow and strong winds were more than enough to make for challenging travel conditions, especially in areas experiencing their first bout of the white stuff this season.
“It’s the first snowstorm,” said dispatcher Rob King of the Maine State Police. “It’ll be two or three snowstorms before they get the hang of it.”
King said the state police received more than 200 emergency-911 calls about car accidents in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties and assisted with more than 30 cars that slid off the road Saturday.
State police reported a dozen minor accidents in Hancock and Washington counties, too, and many more throughout the region, including several cars that slid off Interstate 95 in the Bangor-Orono area.
Meanwhile, more than 1,000 homes and businesses in the Down East region lost power Saturday morning and afternoon after two weather-related crashes broke two utility poles. The outages affected Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. customers primarily in the Gouldsboro and Steuben areas.
Bangor Hydro crews spent several hours working to replace the poles. Power was restored by about 2 p.m., according to Bangor Hydro spokeswoman Susan Faloon.
In the midcoast area, Belfast police officers and Waldo County Sheriff’s Department deputies were dispatched to a number of minor accidents. Cars skidding off the road and fender-bender accidents occurred in Belfast, Waldo and Winterport, but there were no injuries reported.
State police also reported minor accidents in the Waldo County area. State and municipal public works crews spread salt and sand because the going was slippery on some county roads most of the morning.
Driving was not as treacherous in Knox County, where the communications center reported only a couple of instances of vehicles off the road, though in each case the drivers were able to get back on the road.
Acadia National Park rangers locked the gates to the Park Loop Road because of the snowfall. A dispatcher said the roads would be cleared and reopened Sunday. They’ll be closed for the season on Dec. 1.
In northern Penobscot County, officials reported that motorists handled the first dusting of snow well.
Lincoln police dealt with a handful of accidents due to slick conditions. Vehicles went off Lee Road near Frost Street and River Road near the Interstate 95 ramp in Chester, police said. Only minor injuries were reported.
By contrast, parts of New Brunswick were battling blizzard conditions Saturday afternoon.
BDN reporters Walter Griffin, Abigail Curtis and Nick Sambides Jr. contributed to this report.