A snowstorm swept up the Maine coast Saturday, delivering mostly moderate snow to southern and inland parts of the state, the National Weather Service said.

The storm was expected to wallop the midcoast and Down East with blizzard conditions overnight, however.

The leading edge of the storm arrived in southern Maine about midday with a burst of mostly light snow. The storm strengthened off the coast hundreds of miles to the south during the day and intensified as it moved north into the Gulf of Maine.

By the time it finally moves on – forecasters said that should be just before dawn Sunday in southern Maine and late morning Down East – the storm will have left behind about 2 to 4 inches of snow in the western mountains, about 6 inches around Portland and close to 2 feet from the midcoast to Hancock and Washington counties.

Before the next in a seemingly unending train of storms came knocking, Mainers had just a day to get over and clean up from the last storm, which left about 10 inches of snow around Portland on Thursday and Friday, topped off with sleet and freezing rain.

Meteorologist Michael Cempa of the National Weather Service said the greatest impact of Saturday’s snowstorm will be on the coast, and particularly Down East, where the snow is expected to fall overnight at rates of 2 or 3 inches an hour and strong winds will create blizzard conditions.

But Cempa said this storm will be an all-snow event, without sleet or freezing rain creating hard-to-shovel mounds.

Officials cut the speed limits on the Maine Turnpike and Interstate 295 to 45 mph shortly after the snow started to fall Saturday afternoon. Police said there were a few minor collisions and slide-offs, but no serious crashes were reported by early evening and no one was injured.

On-street parking bans were imposed in Portland between 10 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday, in Scarborough between 6 p.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday, in Yarmouth between 6 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday, and in Falmouth between 5 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday.

In Augusta, the last two of eight state tournament basketball games scheduled for the day were canceled Saturday night, with the games to be made up Monday.

And at the Portland International Jetport, dozens of delays and cancellations were reported Saturday, mostly because planes were unable to get into Maine because officials were still unsnarling the schedules shredded on Thursday and Friday at major airports in the South and Mid-Atlantic.

Cempa said that once Mainers dig out from the latest storm – a task that might take all of Sunday where the snow piles up the deepest – the outlook seems at least a little better.

He said the sun would return to southern Maine on Sunday and temperatures will be in the mid- to upper-20s, but winds will remain strong. Winds will ease Monday, which will give Mainers “a bit of a breather,” Cempa said, with mostly sunny skies and temperatures nearing 30 degrees.

Another storm will arrive Tuesday, Cempa said, but it will be “weak and fast-moving,” meaning only a couple of inches of snow are expected.

Cempa said after that, temperatures will start to rebound, warming up into the 40s on Thursday and Friday.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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