‘Impossible to drive safely’ in high winds, blizzard conditions expected through Monday night

Wind blows snow over buildings and across Main Street in Downtown Ellsworth on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 17, 2013.
Mario Moretto
Wind blows snow over buildings and across Main Street in Downtown Ellsworth on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 17, 2013. Buy Photo
Posted Feb. 17, 2013, at 12:42 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 17, 2013, at 7:04 p.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — Experts are warning weather-weary Mainers to brace for high winds, low visibility and even blizzard conditions Sunday and most of Monday, throughout much of the state.

Though snow will continue to fall, meteorologists with the National Weather Service stations in Gray and Caribou said Sunday that accumulation will be small compared to the blizzard that dumped up to 3 feet of snow on Feb. 8 and 9.

“That storm had a lot of snow and wind, this storm is going to be all wind, but not a lot of snow,” said Ken Wallingford, a meteorologist with the Caribou station.

Wallingford said a powerful snowstorm in the Gulf of Maine — several hundred miles off Cape Cod, Mass., as of noon Sunday — would move its way northeast toward Nova Scotia, where it would arrive Sunday night.

The storm will bring winds between 20 and 30 mph, with gusts up to 50 mph, he said.

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for the eastern half of the state, he said, though the rest of the state will not be spared. Wind and winter weather advisories are in effect for southern and western Maine.

“For Portland, it’s currently snowing and really windy, with sea gusts up to 50 mph,” said meteorologist Margaret Curtis, of the NWS Gray station. “We have a wind advisory for the western half of the state. There’s a lot of blowing snow out there, not a lot of snow like the last one, just a couple inches in the south. But there’s a lot of blowing.”

An unrelated storm Saturday night dropped a few inches of light, powdery snow over much of the state, and more is expected to fall, totaling up to 12 inches by Monday evening. Wallingford urged Mainers to stay off the roads, if possible, as the winds pick up speed.

Around noon on Sunday, traffic cameras situated along Interstate 95 in southern Maine already showed low visibility and snowy roads. One camera, in Gray, appeared to have been covered by blowing snow.

“When you have the light, powdery snow we’ve had over the past 24 hours, and that we’ll keep getting, and then you blow that around with these winds, visibility goes down to nothing. It becomes impossible to drive safely,” he said.

Across New England

Up to 8 inches of snow were expected Sunday in Boston, Cape Cod, Nantucket and and surrounding areas. The NWS said that if the storm had been further west, it would have caused a serious blizzard, but instead it was brushing extreme eastern New England, sparing areas like New York City and Connecticut, which were buried in a snowstorm earlier this month, said Mark Paquette, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.

“It will cause headaches, but it could have been a lot worse,” Paquette said.

The storm in the Northeast is the same one that brought snow to North Carolina and South Carolina on Saturday, AccuWeather.com said. It’s not expected to be as destructive as the deadly Northeast blizzard just over a week ago that brought hurricane-force winds and left hundreds of thousands without power. That’s in part due to colder temperatures causing drier snow, which is less likely to stick to trees and cause limbs to fall into power lines, Paquette said.

Still, the new storm had caused “excessive” cancellations and delays of flights arriving at or departing from Boston’s Logan International Airport on Sunday, according to FlightStats.com.

“Travel will be slow at best on well-treated surfaces and quite difficult on any unplowed or untreated surfaces,” the National Weather Service warning said.

Shari Donnermeyer, 54, a media consultant from Portsmouth, N.H., was driving on Interstate 95 from Massachusetts into New Hampshire with winds so strong she could feel her SUV being blown around on the road, where traffic was crawling and drifts of snow were piling up.

“It’s blowing like stink,” said Donnermeyer, using a popular sailing phrase. “The roads are terrible and the drifts are huge.”

Daniel Lovering of Reuters contributed to this report.

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.

Similar articles:

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business