With Thanksgiving just two days away and Christmas only a month off, some Mainers might be contemplating the burden of shoveling snow or the pleasure of skiing down a snow-covered mountain slope.
But there likely won’t be any snow falling Wednesday as motorists drive to family gatherings for the holiday. Instead, it’s going to rain on Thanksgiving eve – and rain hard.
Weather forecasters are predicting between 2 and 3 inches of rain along the coast Wednesday, and up to 3½ inches of rain in Maine’s western mountains.
It will be the intensity of the rainfall that has some authorities worried. Heavy rain can cause streams and rivers to overflow and flooding in roads.
Getting to a destination Wednesday may pose the greatest challenge for drivers. It’s expected to be dry but windy on Thanksgiving Day.
“There will be periods when the rain will be torrential (on Wednesday). Street flooding will be a possibility. The rain is certainly going to impact travel,” said Chris Legro, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.
Legro said the rainstorm Mainers will have to contend with originated in the Gulf of Mexico and will exhibit some tropical tendencies. The weather will be uncharacteristically warm Wednesday, with high temperatures reaching into the 50-degree range, he said.
The rainy weather could complicate holiday travel, said Dan Morin, a spokesman for the Maine Turnpike Authority.
Morin urged motorists to drive cautiously Wednesday, allowing plenty of distance between them and the vehicles in front of them.
“Even the most minor of accidents could create a significant delay,” Morin said.
Peak travel periods on the Maine Turnpike from the York toll plaza northbound will be between 1 and 5 p.m. Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday, Morin said.
The Amtrak Downeaster is bracing for one of its busiest travel periods of the year.
The Downeaster will add an extra passenger car this week to accommodate travelers. And special $5 one-way fares will be offered on some Thanksgiving Day and “Black Friday” trains, according to its website. Those trains will run to Freeport on Thanksgiving night and early Friday to take advantage of “moonlight madness” events in Freeport.
The Downeaster is advising travelers who want to avoid the rush to travel on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after the holiday. It’s also a good idea to buy tickets in advance, as many trains sell out.
Legro said Thanksgiving will be dry but colder, with temperatures in the 30s. It also will be very windy, with gusts up to 40 mph.
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: