Police throughout southern Maine say the icy, snow-covered roads that sent dozens of cars sliding off them earlier tonight seem to be improving.

At the height of the storm – around 4 p.m. – Portland police received reports of 50 traffic accidents. Roads became so clogged that city plow and sanding trucks were unable to get to some of the major arterials.

High Street in Portland had to be shut down because drivers were unable to brake on the hill below its intersection with Cumberland Avenue.

Officials say the storm, which lasted about an hour, couldn’t have happened at a more inopportune time. It struck at the beginning of the afternoon commute for many workers, and since it was the first storm of the season, roads had not been treated with salt or sand, making for slick conditions.