Mainers spent Monday digging out from a powerful winter storm that pummeled the state with strong winds and heavy snow Sunday night and Monday. And more snow is on the way Wednesday.
Down East and northern Maine communities were hit the hardest, with the Washington County town of Jonesboro receiving 36 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service office in Caribou.
Cary Plantation, a town in Aroostook County near Houlton, reported 30 inches of snow, and Orono received 28 inches. Guilford in Piscataquis County reported 28 inches, and Southwest Harbor on Mount Desert Island got 16.7.
In southern Maine, Scarborough and Gorham were the snowfall co-winners with 23 inches each. Portland International Jetport reported 16.1 inches, and Saco in York County received 17.5 inches.
The weather service office in Gray said another significant snowstorm is heading our way. Snow, which may be wet and heavy at times at the start of the storm, will begin falling at daybreak Wednesday in Portland and won’t stop until late evening, meteorologist Stacie Hanes said Monday night.
By the time Wednesday’s storm ends, a large section of Maine will have gotten another 6 to 8 inches of fresh snow, Hanes predicted. Inland areas such as Augusta and Waterville could see 8 to 12 inches.
“We are just in a very active storm track now with a persistent upper air trough that is funneling these storms from the Great Lakes region into the Northeast,” Hanes said.
On Monday, some parts of the state – especially areas east of Brunswick – had to deal at times with blizzard conditions, defined as visibility of less than a quarter-mile and sustained winds of 35 mph or more.
Winter storm warnings were in effect from upstate New York to Maine, and at least one death in Pennsylvania was attributed to the weather. A coroner said high winds took down a tree branch that crashed through a driver’s windshield and led to the death of a 22-year-old man after he went into cardiac arrest at a hospital outside Harrisburg.
By midday Monday, Maine State Police asked tractor-trailer drivers to stay off the interstates because vehicles involved in crashes across the state were blocking roads and ramps. A section of Route 1 in Waldoboro was closed at noon because four tractor-trailers got stuck on the road in whiteout conditions.
Officials had warned Mainers on Sunday to “just stay home” Monday as a precaution, and it appeared many took the advice. Streets were largely deserted, and state and local offices were closed for the day, as were many businesses. Maine state and legislative offices also were closed.
Winds grew stronger throughout the day, according to the weather service. Gusts of up to 50 mph created hazardous driving conditions and knocked out power in some places.
Despite the conditions, no major power outages were reported. As of late Monday evening, Central Maine Power Co. was reporting 176 outages, with 144 of those in Knox County.
Emera Maine, which provides service to northern and Down East Maine, was reporting 1,791 outages as of 8:45 p.m. Monday, with 1,711 in Hancock County.
By late Monday afternoon, there was little additional accumulation in the southern part of the state, but central and northern Maine continued to get walloped. At least 2 feet of snow had fallen in the Augusta-Waterville area by midday, according to the weather service.
Augusta and Waterville received 24 and 23.3 inches, respectively. Oakland reported 29 inches and Vassalboro had 26 inches.
It’s “an old-fashioned Maine blizzard,” said Lt. Mark Brooks, commander of state police Troop C Barracks in Skowhegan.
Julie White, who has lived in the town of Starks for 28 years, said Monday’s storm was among the biggest she has ever experienced.
“My son and I were out shoveling the driveway and we both said – he is going to turn 26 this year – that … we’ve never seen the snowbanks as big around our house,” said White, the town’s former fire chief.
Mark Turner, Waterville’s public works director, said he is getting used to working long hours. Last week, he put in 115 hours.
“It’s just part of the job,” said Turner, 61.
Last year, Waterville’s plow crews worked 21 storms through the end of March, and this year they have already worked 24.
Hundreds of businesses and schools throughout the state were closed Monday. Some school districts, including Portland, used the last of their alloted snow days Monday, but Portland called another snow day for Tuesday, citing unsafe sidewalks and travel conditions.
All flights were grounded at the jetport until 8 p.m., and bus service in Greater Portland was suspended.
Bath Iron Works took the unusual step of canceling Monday’s first and second shifts, except for “essential personnel” such as boiler operators. Third-shift workers, who start at 11 p.m., were told to report for work.
In Lincoln County, the town of Waldoboro stopped running snow plows before noon because of whiteout conditions. Route 1 in Waldoboro reopened to traffic around 1 p.m. after crews from the town’s public works department, the Maine Department of Transportation and AutoMaster Towing removed four tractor-trailers that had jackknifed on a hill.
Downtown Damariscotta was buttoned up Monday morning except for town crews using plow trucks, front-end loaders and small earth-movers, trying to keep up with the snow on Main Street. Snowbanks were already so high that they were approaching the bottoms of directional signs as the snow continued to fall into the early afternoon.
The speed limit was reduced to 45 mph on the Maine Turnpike, but there were multiple reports of tractor-trailers crashing on the turnpike, including those that temporarily blocked lanes in Augusta, Kennebunk and New Gloucester.
The streets of Portland were nearly empty Monday. Major roads through the city had been cleared by 8 a.m., at least for a time, but blowing snow reduced visibility. The scattered pedestrians walked in the streets to avoid sidewalks buried in snow.
In York, several surfers took advantage of the high waves and were in the water at Long Sands Beach at 11 a.m. York police officers posted a Facebook live video as they drove around town to show the deserted streets and waves pounding the beach.
“The ocean is spectacular,” an officer said as he drove along Long Sands, where the surf was choppy and white.
Auburn, Biddeford, Brunswick, Gorham, Portland and Westbrook were among the communities to declare parking bans, all of which end Tuesday morning.
Staff Writer Kevin Miller contributed to this report.
Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at: