February 10, 2013

Blizzard blows away snowfall record

Historic amounts of snow combine with powerful wind gusts, creating monstrous drifts that complicate cleanup.

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Maine got buried under record snowfalls and deep snowdrifts Saturday as a historic blizzard stalled travel, sent vehicles sliding off roads and knocked out electricity to thousands.

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A large snowdrift rests on the top of the car of Joshua Hamel as he cleans off his car in Portland on Sunday, the day after Blizzard Nemo.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

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Nate O’Neil shovels out his and his housemates’ cars Saturday in Scarborough after they were buried in snow. The heaviest snowfall reported in the state Saturday was 35.5 inches in Gorham. In other places, Portland got 31.9 inches; South Berwick, 32; Westbrook, 30; Saco, 27; Hollis, 24.5; Otisfield, 24; Richmond, 26.5; and Lewiston had 25.5 inches.

Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

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Blizzard Snowfall
Explore the reported snowfall totals in Maine by clicking the image below.

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Between 2 and 3 feet of snow fell on most of southern and central Maine from Friday through Saturday afternoon, when the massive nor'easter finally moved off to the east, the snow ended and fierce winds began to ease.

A total of 31.9 inches of snow fell at the Portland International Jetport, smashing the previous single-storm record of 27.1 inches from January 1979.

The heaviest snowfall reported in the state Saturday was 35.5 inches in Gorham. Other totals included 32 inches in South Berwick, 30 inches in Westbrook, 27 inches in Saco, 24.5 inches in Hollis, 24 inches in Otisfield, 26.5 inches in Richmond and 25.5 inches in Lewiston.

Sunshine and temperatures in the high 20s to low 30s were expected Sunday, when the long, slow cleanup will continue in places such as downtown Portland.

"We've broken records. We've set history. But we need help from the people of Portland," Mayor Michael Brennan said Saturday, asking motorists and pedestrians to remain off city streets. "We're asking the people in the city to work with us to give us time to clean up the storm."


The combination of a historic snowfall, powerful winds and the storm's duration of nearly 36 hours made it especially hard to deal with.

The strongest wind recorded in Maine during the storm was at Matinicus, where a gust of 77 mph was recorded at 2 a.m. Saturday. Gusts of more than 50 mph were measured in Portland and Augusta on Saturday morning and most towns and cities in southern Maine recorded gusts of at least 40 mph.

In many areas, drifting snow buried cars Saturday and piled up against houses. Merely opening a door to get outside was difficult.

Transportation officials warned Mainers to stay off the roads Saturday because of blowing snow that created slick conditions and reduced visibility.

Dan Morin, spokesman for the Maine Turnpike Authority, rode with veteran plow truck drivers Friday night as the winds pushed snowdrifts back across the freshly plowed pavement.

"They said they haven't seen anything like this in their careers," he said. "They said the ice storm (of 1998) wasn't anything like this."

Police departments around the state reported numerous minor accidents and vehicles sliding off roads or getting stuck in snowbanks, particularly Friday night.

"Our resources are stretched responding to slide-offs and incidents. We may not be able to get to certain incidents," Morin said early Saturday.

In Westbrook, dispatcher Brad Scovil said plow trucks had to accompany police cruisers overnight as they responded to emergency calls in case the police vehicles became stuck.

In Scarborough, police temporarily closed a section of Running Hill Road because of snow drifts and white-out conditions.

Motorists appeared to heed the advice to stay off the roads Saturday afternoon, which prevented more accidents and more injuries, according to emergency officials. No major crashes were reported in southern Maine after a 19-car pileup in Cumberland early Friday.


Mainers who stayed off the roads also did not go far using mass transportation Saturday.

All Saturday morning flights in and out of the Portland International Jetport were canceled. The first flight to arrive since mid-day Friday was a United Airways flight from Chicago and that landed shortly before 7 p.m. Saturday, about two hours behind schedule.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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A homeowner on Foreside Road in Falmouth clears his driveway Saturday. Sunshine and temperatures in the high 20s to low 30s were expected Sunday, when the long, slow cleanup will continue.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

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Scarves and goggles were popular Saturday as Kevin Phillips and Katie Nimmo keep their heads down into the wind as they search for an open pub in the Old Port in Portland during the Blizzard of 2013.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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An abandoned vehicle sits on the side of the southbound lane of the Maine Turnpike in Portland on Saturday. Officials discouraged travel on the highway during the 2013 Blizzard that hit Maine.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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Snow blows and drifts over the benches along the Eastern Promenade during the blizzard on Munjoy Hill in Portland Saturday morning.

Tim Greenway / Staff Photographer

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Julia May digs buried cars from the snow in her driveway on West Grand Avenue in Ocean Park on Saturday.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

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Cars are parked along the Eastern Promenade Saturday due to the Portland parking ban.

Tim Greenway / Staff Photographer

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Adrian Gusteau, left, chef at the Old Port Tavern, and Jason Bisbing, right, bartender, step outside to marvel at the mounds of snow on the sidewalks of Moulton Street on Saturday afternoon in the aftermath of a blizzard that dumped more than 30 inches of snow on downtown Portland.

Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer

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A motorist helps another getting back on the road as blizzard conditions make driving very dangerous along Route 114 in Gorham on Saturday.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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Charles Harris clears snow from his drive in Gorham on Saturday.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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Kathryn Telford's dog, Ruby, will have to wait awhile before going out in Falmouth. A long while.

Kathryn Telford photo

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Gorham police block the intersection of State Road 114 and Huston Road at 6:30 a.m. Saturday due to a slideoff farther north on 114.

Angie Muhs photo

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Alexandria Brahler, right, holds onto Colin Matthews, as they struggle against strong winds and blowing snow Saturday in Portland. Portland set an all-time snowfall record.

Robert F. Bukaty/The Associated Press

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Skiers put fresh tracks on Quarry Road as snow falls in Waterville on Saturday.

Michael G. Seamans / Morning Sentinel


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