February 14

Maine storm starts as snow, then throws sleet into the mix

By Thursday night, Portland had received 8 inches of snow.

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Steve Craig’s body may be in February, but his mind is on June.

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Russell Hoskins walks through the snow with his 5-month-old son, Evens, tucked into his jacket as they head down Congress Street to the Portland Public Library during Thursday’s storm.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Crossing guide John Lewis stops traffic on Stevens Avenue in Portland as Longfellow Elementary School sends students home early Thursday because of the snowstorm.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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FOR DETAILED Maine weather information, read The Maine Forecast blog.

And that’s not only because he’s thinking of warmer weather. The four snow days his two children’s Portland schools have had so far this winter are threatening to extend the school year and bump up against their summer camp plans. And the snowstorm that blew into southern Maine on Thursday was increasing the odds of makeup school days.

The snowstorm intensified after dusk, dumping between 8 and 12 inches of snow over most of Maine, sending dozens of cars sliding off roads, knocking out power to thousands of homes, and with the threat of overnight sleet and rain, the storm could pose driving challenges during the Friday morning commute.

Inland and northern mountain areas could get more than a foot of snow, according to Chris Kimble, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.

The weather service said a winter storm warning will remain in effect through 9 a.m. Friday – about the time that the storm is expected to begin winding down.

By Friday afternoon, the skies will begin to clear and temperatures will climb into the 30s, Kimble said.

But Thursday night proved to be the worst part of the storm.

By 7 p.m., snow was beginning to mix with sleet in Portland and coastal areas, Kimble said. That wintry mix was expected to include some rain after midnight.

State troopers responded to 25 accidents – most of them slide-offs – between 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on the Maine Turnpike and Interstate 295 and were reporting “white-out” conditions by 8 p.m., a dispatcher said.

By 9:30 p.m., Portland had received 8 inches of snow. The weather service said Casco got 10 inches, Bridgton 8.2 inches, Yarmouth 8 inches, Westbrook 7 inches, Saco 7.2 inches, and Sanford 6.8 inches. Kimble said the snow will resume Friday morning, with the potential for another 1 to 3 inches of accumulation.

As the snow mixed with sleet Thursday night, power outages increased significantly.

More than 600 Central Maine Power Co. customers were without electricity Thursday night, with most of those customers in York and Androscoggin counties.

More than 4,300 customers of Emera Maine – formerly known as Bangor Hydro Electric – were without power Thursday night. Nearly all of those customers live in the Hancock County towns of Bar Harbor, Seal Cove and Southwest Harbor.

The storm was so severe that the company hired to dredge Portland Harbor decided to cancel its operations Thursday because of rough seas.

The storm left havoc in its wake as it moved up the East Coast, from layers of ice coating Southern cities to heavy snow blanketing the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

Some local schools were closed Thursday, and more closures were possible Friday.

Dozens of flight cancellations stranded travelers and left the Portland International Jetport a ghost town at midday Thursday.

Amtrak canceled some of its trains and modified the schedules for others in the Northeast and the South.

Cities including Portland and Westbrook imposed on-street parking bans for Thursday night into Friday morning.

Speed limits were reduced Thursday to 45 mph on the entire length of the Maine Turnpike and Interstate 295 because of the snow.

Gorham police said weather was a factor in a crash on the Bernard P. Rines Highway late Thursday morning, when Justin L. Oullette, 19, of Biddeford, lost control of his minivan and crossed over the center line into the path of a car driven by David P. Russell, 59, of Standish. Police said Oullette was partially thrown from the minivan and was at Maine Medical Center in Portland in critical condition. Russell was also taken to Maine Med with non-life-threatening injuries.

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Additional Photos

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A Portland International Jetport crew de-ices a Southwest jet that was an hour late for its scheduled 11:30 a.m. departure. The flight had already been diverted from Baltimore to Atlanta before its arrival at the jetport early Thursday.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer


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