Josh Suitter of Houlton tries to keep up with the rapidly falling snow in the Shiretown in this Dec. 3, 2019, file photo. Credit: Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times

A winter storm promises to drop as much as a foot of fresh snow across much of northern Maine and whip the state with high winds on Thursday.

A winter storm warning is in effect until 5 a.m. Friday for Aroostook, Piscataquis, northern Penobscot and Washington counties, as well as the western mountains. A winter weather advisory is in place across central, eastern and Down East Maine, while a wind advisory is in effect for the coast.

“Travel could be very difficult. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning and evening commute. Strong winds could cause tree damage,” a weather service advisory reads.

The snowfall will be heaviest in the early afternoon for northern Maine before petering out later Thursday evening, according to the National Weather Service office in Caribou. School cancellations rolled in early Thursday morning, with closures in Bangor, Brewer and elsewhere across the state.

Despite the closures, the snowfall will be concentrated across the northern half of the state, where up to 8 to 12 inches are forecast for Millinocket, Greenville, Houlton, Fort Kent and Madawaska and up to 6 to 8 inches for Presque Isle and Caribou, according to the weather service office in Caribou.

That accumulation will diminish toward the coast, with only 1 to 2 inches in the forecast for Greater Bangor and less than an inch from Bar Harbor to Eastport, the weather service reports.

Instead, sleet and rain are expected to fall over much of the immediate coast, reducing the little snow accumulation in the forecast.

Elsewhere, the southern portion of the state can also expect to avoid the brunt of the snowfall, with little to no accumulation expected from Portland to Belfast, according to the weather service office in Gray.

Snowfall will get heavier again toward the western mountains, where up to 8 to 12 inches are forecast to fall over an area stretching from Rangeley to Jackman, the weather service reports.

In addition to the snow, strong winds will buffet the state throughout the day Thursday. A weather service advisory forecasts sustained winds up to 20 to 30 mph, with gusts blowing as high as 50 mph, particularly along the coast.

The weather service warned the winds could cause widespread power outages at times.