It feels like spring should be here, but winter refuses to let go.

With the Maine Flower Show underway in Portland – it opened to the general public Thursday morning – and the Portland Sea Dogs home opener just days away, weather forecasters are predicting that a snowy nor’easter is heading toward southern Maine on April Fools’ Day.

The National Weather Service in Gray says the worst of the storm will hit Friday and early Saturday, dumping between 6 and 8 inches of heavy, wet snow in the Portland area before it abruptly leaves the state.

Sunday’s weather should bring a completely different weather pattern with plenty of sunshine and temperatures topping 50 degrees in Portland. Temperatures in the high 30s and 40s are expected through Wednesday.

Eric Sinsabaugh, a meteorologist with the weather service, said the storm has been challenging to predict because several forecasting models have been in disagreement for several days. Sinsabaugh said the weather service is fairly confident now that all of Cumberland and York counties, as well southern Oxford and Androscoggin counties, will get 6 to 8 inches of heavy, wet snow. There is a chance the snow will mix with rain and freezing rain in some areas.

“The storm doesn’t really get going until tomorrow night with the heavier stuff falling after midnight,” Sinsabaugh said Thursday. “It is going to be that wet, greasy stuff that is so typical of a spring snow event.”

Meanwhile, organizers of two events that have traditionally marked the beginning of spring are keeping a close eye on the forecast.

The Portland Sea Dogs’ home opener is scheduled for Thursday, but team officials are not sure what to expect yet.

“This storm has us thinking back to 2007, when we got a foot of snow on Opening Day, yet we were able to play four days later,” Sea Dogs spokesman Chris Cameron said. “So while the storm is concerning and going to present some challenges, we remain optimistic that we’ll be able to play on Thursday.”

Cameron said snow removal crews will arrive at Hadlock Field on Sunday morning.

The Maine Flower Show opened Thursday at its new venue, Thompson’s Point in Portland, and will run through Sunday.

Don Sproul, who is producing the show for the Maine Landscape and Nursery Association, said people are “starving for a taste of spring.”

Sproul, who is also the association’s executive director, said thousands of people – many were bused to the site on the Fore River – attended the show Thursday. Event organizers, who were anticipating 2,500 people, sold more than 4,000 tickets.

“We were really slammed this morning when we opened the doors. There were way more people than we planned for,” Sproul said.

Sproul said he is aware of the forecast, and stressed that he doesn’t want people putting themselves at risk by traveling in stormy conditions.

But, he said, “The good news is if people are sick of winter, and hate the snow, they can come see the flower show.”

This year’s inaugural show features 16 gardens and 100 exhibits of plants, hardscape, arbor, garden supplies and workshops. The show’s premiere night Wednesday offered the public an exclusive first look at some of the show’s exhibitors and featured an awards ceremony.

The weather service says the state is still in an active weather pattern, with the possibility of more snow next week.

April snowstorms are not uncommon in Maine.

Records show an average April snowfall of 2.8 inches, and last year, the Portland area received 2 to 4 inches on April 26.

The record April snowfall in Portland was set in 1922, when 16.2 inches fell over a three-day period early in the month.

The largest April 1 snowstorm occurred in 1993, when 10.6 inches fell in Portland. The most significant recent April snowstorm in Portland took place April 4-5, 2007, when 11.7 inches fell.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]