A blizzard arriving Thursday morning will batter the state with high winds and drop about a foot of snow across the state, according to the National Weather Service.
The storm is expected to mark the second “ bomb cyclone” — when sudden winds accelerate in force over a 24-hour period — to hit the state since an Oct. 30 storm knocked out power to nearly half a million Mainers and caused millions of dollars in damage. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump declared that storm a disaster and approved federal funding to assist in local recovery efforts.
The Legislature on Wednesday postponed its Thursday committee hearings ahead of the storm. School districts and colleges across the state also announced there would be no classes on Thursday.
Snow in Greater Bangor will start falling earlier than predicted Thursday, arriving midmorning and blanketing the city with a foot of snow by early Friday morning.
Precipitation will start earlier in the southern counties, where higher-than-expected snow totals will collect, starting around 7:30 a.m. and letting up around midnight.
Spurred by a combination of wind and snow, blizzard warnings are in effect all along the coast. Gusts there could reach 50 mph, and winds inland will blow at sustained speeds of 25 to 35 mph, according to Mark Bloomer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Caribou.
Central Maine Power and Emera Maine, the state’s major power companies, warned customers on their websites that the intense, expected wind could knock down trees and power lines. Both companies have pre-emptively adjusted staffing levels and positioned equipement to quickly respond to power outages, they said.
Swirling, wind-churned snowfall will cast the state in whiteout conditions for most of the afternoon, making for poor visibility on the roads, Bloomer said.
“I would advise nobody to travel at all on Thursday,” he said.
The Bureau of Motor Vehicles said it would reschedule all driver’s license exams for Thursday and Friday in anticipation of slippery road conditions.
Leading the pack for predicted regional snow totals, Down East will see about 13 to 14 inches — slightly more than was forecast on Tuesday.
In the southern counties, higher amounts are predicted, now that the storm is tracking farther west than it was Wednesday, according to Andy Pohl, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Gray.
In York and Cumberland counties, between 8 and 10 inches are predicted, while the midcoast is expected to see 10 to 14 inches.
The Lewiston-Auburn area, which saw some of the highest snow totals during a hard-hitting Christmas Day storm, will see about 8 to 10 inches, and the Augusta area will get a little more, about 9 to 11 inches, Pohl said.
Nearly a foot is expected to fall across northern Penobscot County and southern Aroostook County. About half that amount will fall in the far north — between 7 and 8 inches, Bloomer said.
To belie the severity of Thursday’s precipitation, slightly higher temperatures in the mid-20s and low 30s are predicted to accompany the blizzard.
The milder air will be a short-lived reprieve from a recent cold snap that kept the state in the frigid single digits and below zero for about a week. The spell dragged Bangor’s average December temperature 6.5 degrees lower than its usual average for the month — down to 18 degrees, from the usual 24.5, Bloomer said.
But the relative warmth won’t last, as single-digit and subzero temperatures will return on the backside of Thursday’s storm, falling overnight Friday, he said. On Saturday, the high temperature in Bangor will be 1 degree, Bloomer said.
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Correction: An earlier version of this report misspelled National Weather Service forecaster Mark Bloomer's name.