Updated at 1:45 p.m.
More snow is coming to central Maine than originally expected — perhaps up to a foot — according to the Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency.
The agency has sent out an alert saying the storm is tracking closer inland than anticipated, and now 8 to 12 inches is expected for Kennebec County. The original prediction was in the 5- to 9-inch range.
Snowfall for Franklin and Somerset counties is predicted in the range of 4-7 inches.
According to the agency, winds will increase slightly and will cause drifting, blowing snow and making travel conditions difficult throughout the day. Power outages are possible in isolated areas, but not a major threat, the agency said.
The storm is expected to begin tapering off around 6 or 7 p.m. this evening.
In Waterville, things went south about 9 a.m., when snowfall and high winds picked up quickly. High winds are creating blizzard-like conditions and there have been several reports of cars going off roads.
All local schools are closed and other organizations are closing early. For an updated list of closures, click HERE.
At the Alfond Youth Center in Waterville, nearly all of today’s programs were canceled, including Decal Gymnastics and Morning School of Dance. Only the after-school program would remain open until 5 p.m.
Meanwhile, MaineGeneral Medical Center is closing its outpatient rehabilitation services at noon today. That includes occupational, physical and speech therapy provided at the following locations: 10 Caldwell Road, Augusta; Seton Campus, 30 Chase Ave., Waterville; 107 FirstPark Drive, Oakland; and 40 Granite Hill Road., Manchester. Offices will reopen tomorrow at 7 a.m.
Sgt. Scott Taylor of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Department said his department has not had to respond to any accidents.
Taylor and two deputies are patrolling the east side of the Kennebec River. Roads are treacherous, Taylor said, but there have been no accidents reported in the area.
“I can’t believe it,” Taylor said.
Police around the region are responding to reports of fender-benders, including one involving a vehicle and a state plow truck in Leeds. None of the accidents appears to have caused serious injury.
There was a report about 1 p.m. of a tractor-trailer truck rolling onto its side on Interstate 95 in Newport. No further details were immediately available.
The city of Gardiner has issued a parking ban effective immediately through 7 a.m. Thursday. Parking is not allowed on city streets, according to police. Vehicle owners who violate the policy might receive a ticket.
State offices will close early today and the University of Maine at Augusta called off all classes Wednesday and closed its Augusta and Bangor campuses.
State government offices will close at 3 p.m.
“I’ve said business is a priority, but safety is also,” LePage said in a news release. “I’m shutting down government early so state employees have the time and daylight they need to get home safely. I appreciate the effort thousands of state workers made to get to their posts today and urge everyone to take their time getting home.”
And the Maine Mall closed at noon today. The South Portland retail complex, typically open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, made the announcement this morning.
Some of the mall’s anchor stores have their own hours of operation, so the mall encourages shopper’s to check with Best Buy, JC Penney, Macy’s and Sears for their individual operation hours.
The Monmouth Town Office is closed for the day due to the storm.The office closed for business at 1 p.m., according to a post on the town website.The selectmen’s meeting scheduled for tonight has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at Cumston Hall.
Wednesday’s storm all but shut down the agricultural trades show at the Augusta Civic Center.
Judy Blaisdell, spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Agriculture, said only vendors were attending the annual show on Wednesday. She said Commissioner Seth Bradstreet was considering closing he event down early so they could get home before dark.
“We’re talking about shutting down at 4:30 (p.m.), we usually stay open until 8 (p.m.) on Wednesdays,” Blaisdell said Wednesday. “The meetings will continue to run, but since there’s nobody here but exhibitors, we’d like them to be able to get home before dark.”
The annual state of Maine pie contest on Wednesday had to be canceled until Thursday, she said.