November 8, 2012

First snow brings a few inches, accidents

Though the snowfall was light and followed by rain, a record for the date was set in Portland: 2.2 inches.

By David Hench
Staff Writer

The first snowfall of the season in southern Maine led to traffic accidents early Thursday morning.

click image to enlarge

As the first snowfall of the season turns to rain, a pedestrian on Temple Street in Portland uses an umbrella. Most places saw just a few inches of snow before the rains came.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

The nor'easter brought a couple of inches of snow overnight, but by the morning commute most major roads had been cleared and the snow had turned to rain.

Crashes in Buxton and Westbrook sent motorists to the hospital, but none of the injuries was serious. Most of the accidents Thursday morning were minor, according to public safety dispatchers.

"It takes, usually, three storms for Maine drivers to get re-acclimated to driving in winter weather, and I really didn't count this one as the first," said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety. "There was not enough snow on the ground to count that. This is just a precursor of things to come."

He said, "After driving clear, dry pavement spring, summer and fall -- and we do it every year -- it still takes some time for drivers to get their winter driving skills."

The snowfall was actually a record for the date -- a fairly modest record. The 2.2 inches in Portland broke the record for Nov. 8. The previous record was 2 inches, set in 1968, said Chris Kimble, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Gray.

Saco received 2 inches and south got Eliot 1.3. The highest total in the region was in South Windham, which got 3.6 inches, he said.

The weather hit New York harder, creating travel complications. Four of the Portland International Jetport's 12 flights bound for the New York area were cancelled, though flights were pretty much back to normal by late afternoon, said the airport's manager, Paul Bradbury.

A more serious event that may have been connected to the storm was a fire reported at 6:43 a.m. Thursday at 324 Goodwin Road in Eliot, the site of an electrician's business.

When fire crews arrived, half of the building was burning, said Fire Chief Jay Muzeroll. That 20-foot-by-30-foot section -- as well as the electrical equipment and generators -- was a total loss, although the rest of the building, including the office, barn and attached house, were saved, he said.

Nobody was injured.

Investigators suspect that a window-mounted pellet stove may have contributed to the fire, Muzeroll said. The units look like air conditioners, with about half outside the window and half inside it, he said.

The fire apparently started outside the building, so there may have been a problem with the exhaust, he said.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:


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