Saturday, March 8, 2014
A daylong storm slowed Wednesday’s morning and evening commutes, dropping more than 8 inches of snow on much of southern and western Maine and adding to a seasonal snowfall total that was already above average.
A man trudges up Smith Street in Portland as blowing white flakes fail to obscure the other colors around him on Wednesday afternoon.
John Ewing/Staff Photographer
Lori Raftis of Saco clears snow off her car during Wednesday’s snowstorm.
Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer
Before Wednesday’s storm, snowfall totals in Portland were already running 8 inches more than average and 9 inches more than last year.
Portland received 8.7 inches of snow from Wednesday’s storm, increasing the snowfall total for Portland to 53 inches, 16.7 inches above average through Feb. 5, according to the National Weather Service in Gray. Portland’s average snowfall through that date is 36.2 inches.
“Overall, most towns got between 7 and 12 inches of snow from this storm,” said Bob Marine, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Standish and Cumberland reported 9.6 and 9.0 inches, respectively. In York County, Hollis got 8.9 inches and Kennebunk got 8.6 inches. Durham received 7.3 inches and Eustis, in northern Maine, received just 5 inches.
The timing of the storm was good or bad, depending on where you sat.
For commuters, both the morning and the evening drive were sloppy, especially after sunset, and plows struggled to keep up with the accumulation at times during the day.
Traffic was relatively light, however, with many government offices and businesses closing early. Marine said the snow stopped falling around 9 p.m.
Municipal plow drivers worked hard to keep up with heavy snow as commuters drove home Wednesday evening.
“We’ve tried to stay on the main roads pretty much throughout the whole day, and we clean side roads in between,” said Arty Ledoux, deputy public works director in Westbrook.
“We’re going to keep all the crews til probably 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., then we’ll cut quite a few of them loose to get a good night’s rest,” he said. A smaller crew will work through the night and a few more will start at 3 a.m. clearing sidewalks for school.
Private plows have it a bit different.
“The timing is lovely,” said Debbie Coffin of Freeport, whose husband, Walter, drives a plow. Many customers had left for work before snow started accumulating, then were gone for the day. “People are at work, the cars are out of the driveway, so it makes it easier.”
With all day to clear lots and driveways, her husband might get two decent nights’ sleep in a row, she said.
“The whole thing’s done by midnight, then he can come home ... gets to get to bed at a reasonable hour,” she said.
Last season, Portland had received slightly less than average through Feb. 5. However, a record-breaking storm struck on Feb. 8 and lasted through the following day, dumping almost 3 feet of snow on some parts of southern Maine. A total of 31.9 inches fell at the Portland International Jetport, smashing the previous single-storm record of 27.1 inches from January 1979.
On Wednesday, Gov. Paul LePage closed state offices in Cumberland, York, Kennebec, Androscoggin, Oxford, Knox, Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties at noon, and the city of Portland closed municipal offices at 1 p.m. Many flights into and out of the Portland Jetport were canceled or delayed Wednesday.
The National Weather Service in Gray forecast partly cloudy and dry weather Thursday with temperatures in the mid 20s.
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:
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An SUV travels northbound on a deserted stretch of the Maine Turnpike in Kennebunk on Wednesday.
Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer