A nor’easter that roared through Maine over the weekend blanketed the state with about one foot of light, fluffy snow.
Though snowfall amounts varied widely – from 8 inches in Bath to 16.5 inches in Biddeford – most of the state got about a foot of powdery snow, according to the National Weather Service.
In the Aroostook County town of Mars Hill, residents reported “thunder snow” on Sunday afternoon, an unusual weather occurrence that takes place when thunder and lightning mix with snow.
The weather service’s Caribou office confirmed the lightning strikes on its radar.
“It’s very cool,” said Maureen Hastings, a meteorologist with the Caribou office.
The snowstorm started late Saturday night, but by noon Sunday the storm proved it had more bluster than bite, triggering only minor traffic accidents and few power outages as it moved up the coast.
“It has been a quiet day for us. Everyone stayed home and hunkered down,” Portland police Lt. Gary Hutcheson said Sunday night.
The storm, which dropped 12.4 inches of snow at the Portland International Jetport, did trigger a yellow zone parking ban that remained in effect from 10 p.m. Sunday through 6 a.m. Monday.
Hutcheson said anyone whose car is parked on city streets in the zone – the area bounded by Commercial Street on the south, Cumberland Avenue on the north, Franklin Street on the east and State Street on the west – will be towed.
He said the parking ban allows public works crews the time and space they need to clear sidewalks and streets of snow before the start of business on Monday.
The most challenging part of the storm for people on foot or driving a car may have been the wind gusts.
“There was a lot of blowing and drifting,” said Chris Legro, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray. “The good thing was the snow was pretty light and fluffy.”
Winds gusted up to 35 miles per hour in Portland, falling just short of the sustained wind speed that would have made the storm a blizzard. Legro classified the weekend storm as a nor’easter.
Despite the strong winds, Central Maine Power Co. reported few outages.
By midday Sunday, CMP had 820 outages, mostly in York County, out of about 600,000 statewide customers. As of 6:30 p.m., just under 400 customers were without power in Androscoggin and Penobscot counties.
Maine State Police and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said motorists were staying off the roads, and that kept traffic accidents to a minimum.
At the Maine Mall in South Portland, business was pretty slow. Sarah Libby, general manager of Johnny Rockets restaurant, said she put her employees on cleaning detail because there were no customers in sight Sunday morning.
But the food court was packed Saturday at lunch, she said.
“Yesterday was just a big rush, but at dinner it just died down,” Libby said.
Air travel in and out of Portland was mostly unaffected by the storm.
Only a couple of flights were canceled Sunday morning and one in the afternoon, according to the jetport’s website.
“The runways are in good shape,” said Bob Rothbart, a communications specialist at the airport.
Rothbart said it helped that the storm fell on a Sunday, which is usually the slowest travel day of the week.
The storm brought extremely cold air with it. Sunday’s low temperature in Portland was 12 degrees, Legro said.
“It was cold but not record-breaking,” he said.
The record low for the date was set in 1989 at minus 3 degrees.
Legro said Monday’s forecast calls for sunshine with a high near 18. He said it will be clear Monday night with temperatures expected to drop below zero.
More snow is expected on Tuesday.
The weather service reported the following unofficial snowfall amounts from the storm:
Standish, 12.5 inches; North Deering in Portland, 11.5 inches; Gorham, 11.5 inches; Raymond, 10 inches; Yarmouth, 11 inches; Presque Isle, 13.5 inches; Old Orchard Beach, 16 inches; Kennebunk, 14 inches; Wells, 10.5 inches; and Phippsburg, 12 inches.
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:
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