Maine’s first major winter storm wreaked havoc across the state on Wednesday, plunging tens of thousands of homes into darkness and causing a fatal accident in Berwick and dozens of other car crashes on one of the year’s busiest travel days.

The severity of the storm and the widepread outages – more than 83,000 homes were without power in Central Maine Power Co. and Emera Maine’s service areas at 11 p.m. – prompted Gov. Paul LePage to issue a limited emergency proclamation that will allow crews from Canada to work longer hours as they try to restore power to as many homes as possible for the Thanksgiving holiday.

A spokesman for CMP said it is unlikely that crews will be able to restore power in time for everyone to cook their Thanksgiving turkeys.

“There will be customers without power on Thanksgiving,” said John Carroll.

The storm, which was classified as a nor’easter, brought more and heavier snow than originally forecast. On Tuesday, the National Weather Service in Gray predicted 2 to 5 inches along the coast. By Wednesday, the forecast for most of Maine had been raised to 8 to 14 inches.

As of 8 p.m., Standish had received 7.5 inches of snow, Gorham, 5.2 inches; Portland, 4.9 inches; Cornish, 8.3 inches, and Hollis had 7.5 inches, according to the weather service. Snowfall was expected to end by 3 a.m. Thursday in southern Maine and 4 a.m. in the Augusta area.

The snow was heavy and wet – a perfect blend of slop to push tree branches onto power lines and make roads slippery.

“This has been a wet, heavy snow,” Carroll said. “If it had been light and fluffy, it would have been of no consequence.”

Carroll said 600 to 700 CMP employees will report to work on Thanksgiving, with line repair crews expected to start at 5 a.m.

About 70 Canadian utility workers were expected to help.

“That was our greatest fear, that the snow would be heavy and wet,” said Bob Potts, a spokesman for Emera Maine, which serves the Bangor region and Down East Maine.

Despite warnings about taking it slow on the roads, many drivers apparently did not, according to police.

“We’ve got accidents everywhere,” a Scarborough police dispatcher said Wednesday night.

William King Jr., chief deputy for the York County Sheriff’s Office, said his department responded to 76 traffic accidents from noon to 8 p.m., the majority of them minor.

Berwick police reported that one person died after a large box truck collided with a car on Route 9 in the vicinity of the Knowlton School. Police said the driver of a Nissan sedan lost control on the slippery road and slid sideways, striking the front of the van. The driver, who was not identified Wednesday, was pronounced dead at the scene.

In neighboring South Berwick, a car driven by Geoffrey Talbot, 25, of South Berwick went off Route 236 and down a steep embankment before coming to rest on its side Wednesday morning. Talbot was flown to a Boston hospital for treatment.

Police said Talbot’s injuries were serious, but his condition was unavailable Wednesday night. The cause of the accident, which occurred at 6:45 a.m., remained under investigation.

David Francoeur, York County’s interim emergency management director, said York County residents were among those hardest hit by the storm.

About 27,000 customers in York County were without power late Wednesday night. Cumberland County had almost 23,000 outages at 11:15 p.m.

The storm made travel miserable and dangerous, for motorists and for air and rail travelers.

Kerry Leary, a passenger on a southbound Amtrak Downeaster train, said the train was delayed in Saco for about 90 minutes Wednesday night after track switches froze. The train finally left Saco for Boston around 9 p.m.

Nearly all afternoon flights in and out of the Portland International Jetport were canceled or delayed, according to the jetport’s website.

The jetport was almost empty Wednesday afternoon, on one of the busiest flying days of the year. The storm track had stalled air travel at major airports in Washington, Philadelphia, Newark and New York, said jetport Manager Paul Bradbury.

“The morning push went fine,” Bradbury said, but most of the 21 flights scheduled to land between 2:30 p.m. and midnight had been canceled. Most departures were canceled even to places unaffected by the storm because those planes had not arrived from other airports.

By early evening, more than 700 flights nationwide had been canceled, most in the Northeast.

A Monmouth fire truck was involved in a collision on Pond Road in Wales. Engine 84 was returning from a car crash when an oncoming sport utility vehicle lost control and started sliding toward the truck, said Fire Chief Dan Roy. The driver of the fire truck had almost come to a stop when the oncoming vehicle hit the front bumper, Roy said.

Two people in the car were taken by ambulance to a hospital with minor injuries and a third was treated at the scene, he said.

Sanford police reported “countless” crashes and vehicles off the road and said tree branches were falling into the road.

State offices closed at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Gov. Paul LePage urged caution for Mainers who were traveling Thursday.

“I urge all of you to drive safely as you commute to your destination,” the governor said in a statement. “Stopping on snow or ice without skidding requires extra time and distance. Drive slowly so you can adjust to changing road conditions. Please remember to keep a safe distance behind other vehicles and give plow trucks plenty of room to operate.”

Travel experts say that a handful of days in the summer have more travelers than Thanksgiving, but the late November holiday is the busiest that is prone to foul weather. Americans were expected to embark on some 28 million long-distance trips – trips of more than 50 miles – on Thanksgiving Day compared to the average of about 14 million such trips on an average day.