ELLSWORTH, Maine — The steady snow that ushered in the new year Thursday night and Friday was just a warm-up for the storm that is expected to hit the state today.
Snow continued falling into the evening Friday, and the second blast was predicted to begin again Saturday morning. This is a major winter storm, and snowfall will continue through into Sunday, dropping 8 to 12 inches across many sections of the state and close to a foot and a half of snow in central and eastern Maine, according to the National Weather Service.
The biggest danger in the storm may not come from the snow, but from the wind that the storm will bring with it.
“As the storm develops, it’s going to pick up in intensity,” said Ken Wallingford, a meteorologist with NWS in Caribou. “The biggest concern is that it’s going to pick up a lot of wind. There will be significant blowing and drifting with this storm. We can expect near whiteout and blizzard conditions during the evening hours.”
To be safe, people should stay home and off the roads, Wallingford said Friday.
In Bangor, crews from the Public Works Department were headed to the city’s side and residential streets early Friday evening to plow before the major storm hits Saturday.
“We’ve got a full crew in going out to clean and plow,” Danny Bigelow, foreman, said about 5:15 p.m. “They’ll head home when we get that done tonight to hopefully get some sleep before they have to come back tomorrow.”
The city has a total of 35 street plows, sand trucks, sidewalk machines and loaders that are used during major storms, he said.
The second storm is taking an unusual track. Most winter storms come up from the mid-Atlantic states and then head into the Gulf of Maine and over Nova Scotia. This storm is expected to track off the East Coast well south of Nova Scotia and then turn to the north and then northwest heading into the coast of Maine.
That will mean that snowfall will start Down East in areas near Eastport and Calais and then spread throughout the state. Snowfall from this storm is expected to start Saturday morning and continue throughout the day and night and into Sunday. Winds will begin to pick up in the late afternoon and evening, with steady winds of 20 to 30 mph out of the north, with gusts as high as 35 or 40 mph.
This will be an all-snow event for most of the storm, Wallingford said, adding that the winds will be drawing in warm air from the south, and some areas, particularly Down East, could see a changeover to rain as the storm winds down.
According to the NWS, the New Year’s Eve storm dropped more snow on eastern Maine with the highest amounts generally in Hancock and Penobscot counties. Unofficial observations showed snowfalls of 5 inches in Brooksville and Hampden, 4.5 inches in Bucksport, 4.3 inches in Ellsworth, 3 inches in Corinth and Old Town and 2.5 in Orono and Blue Hill.
At Acadia National Park, officials closed a section of Ocean Drive on Friday because of the snow.
BDN writer Judy Harrison contributed to this report.