PORTLAND – High winds and heavy snow combined Monday to create a wild winter storm across Maine.

The National Weather Service in Gray said some sections of the state may have had an actual blizzard, while most areas were battered by a classic nor’easter.

“It’s about as close as we ever come to getting a true blizzard,” said Eric Sinsabaugh, a meteorologist with the weather service. “But I’m looking at this as more a run-of-the-mill nor’easter.”

A snowstorm is classified as a blizzard when visibility is a quarter-mile or less and winds are 35 mph or more for at least three hours. The weather service issued a blizzard warning early Monday until 6 p.m.

Snowfall totals varied widely. Portlanders awoke to 6 to 11 inches of snow. Sinsabaugh said the average snowfall around Portland was 9 inches, with Westbrook getting 8.5, Raymond getting 10.5, Casco getting 7 and Kennebunk getting 10 inches.

Throughout the day, the snow was blown around by winds of 35 mph to nearly 50 mph throughout southern Maine.

The storm interfered with the plans of holiday travelers whose flights, trains and buses were delayed. But the weather meant a day off for some, as state government, municipal offices and some businesses shut down as a precaution.

Flights were canceled because of strong crosswinds on the main runway at the Portland International Jetport, said Greg Hughes, a jetport spokesman. The jetport’s shorter runway, which runs north-south, was an alternative for smaller regional jets, but not the larger aircraft, he said.

“This was a humdinger — not only the length of the storm, but the winds were way too strong, and that plays havoc with all the airports,” Hughes said.

Catherine Wholey of Arundel tried to drop family members at the airport for the second time in two days. Her son, Matthew, saw his flight canceled Monday. His first chance to get a flight to Cleveland was out of Providence, R.I., on Wednesday night. The family waited around to ensure that Catherine Wholey’s daughter-in-law, Jennifer, would make it out of Portland. Jennifer had a flight canceled Sunday, and another Monday, before she got on a flight to Philadelphia.

Her husband, Donald, was working on his smart phone to get her a connection to North Carolina. “This is a family effort,” Catherine Wholey said.

John and Michelle Terry of Lincolnville knew their afternoon flight to Indianapolis had been canceled. After trying for an hour and a half to reschedule over the phone, they drove to Portland, hoping for better luck in person. The result: no available flights until Thursday, when their post-holiday family gathering will be breaking up.

They sat in a waiting area, trying to figure out their next move and leaning toward calling it quits. “So we’ll go home and shovel snow,” John Terry said.

The winds were less of a problem for Casco Bay Lines. The captain of one early boat decided not to dock at Long Island or Cliff Island because of the wind, but the terminal in Portland and most of the docks are protected when winds come from the north, said Assistant Operations Manager Roki Horr.

“Business as usual. We’re on our schedule,” he said.

Michael and Ann Siewert had no problems until they hit New England. They traveled from New Mexico to Boston by train, then arrived at the Portland Transportation Center on a delayed Downeaster at noon — just in time to meet their bus, which ended up being canceled.

“There’s another bus, supposedly, around 4:30. We don’t know if that’s going to depart or not,” Michael Siewert said.

On Sunday, Concord Coach Lines stopped running buses around 2:30 p.m. On Monday, buses didn’t start running until 9:30 a.m., rather than at 3:15 a.m. as usual. “That’s a lot of buses,” said Lindsey Profenno, a ticket agent who noted that many passengers were going to Logan International Airport in hopes of getting flights.

Traffic accidents were few, given the magnitude of the storm. The Maine Department of Public Safety said fewer vehicles were on the roads, because of school vacation and the closures of so many workplaces.

Authorities blamed one death on the storm. Wells police said Richard Folsom, 59, of Wells died several hours after his pickup truck crashed into a tree Sunday night.

In Newport, slippery roads caused a tractor-trailer to slide and hit a house, smashing the sun room and stunning the home’s occupants. Police Lt. Randy Wing said the tractor-trailer was loaded with bark at the time of the crash, at 2:10 a.m. Monday.

Marguerite Fowler, 81, said she and her husband, Stanley, 84, were asleep when they heard the crash. The impact shook the house and sent glass shards throughout it.

Marguerite Fowler said it sounded like a bomb went off. She said, “We don’t need all that excitement at our age.”

Outages for Central Maine Power Co. customers peaked around 4,000 in mid-afternoon — though for only about 20 minutes, said spokesman John Carroll. late afternoon, there were about 3,150 outages, most in York and Somerset counties.

“We didn’t have a lot of the heavy, wet, sticky snow, so that made a difference. It has been a very windy day,” Carroll said.

In downtown Portland, Preble Street’s day shelter was busy, with chairs in short supply at times but always enough room for everybody, said Jon Bradley, the organization’s associate director.

“The challenge on a day that’s snowy, for us in the day shelter at Preble Street, is that nothing else is open. We are quite full all day,” he said.

Michael Bobinsky, Portland’s director of public services, said cleanup efforts, which involved 40 pieces of equipment and more than 55 employees at the peak, were going smoothly. He said it helped that few vehicles were on the streets.

A “yellow” parking ban for the downtown area was in effect from 10 p.m. Monday until 6 a.m. today. That would help snow removal efforts around the Old Port, Bobinsky said. He said the cleanup effort is expected to last throughout today.

Sinsabaugh, the National Weather Service meteorologist, said temperatures were expected to drop dramatically, with temperatures reaching a low of 8 degrees in Portland overnight into today.

“That wind is going to persist, which will make it feel a lot colder than it really is,” he said.

the end of the week, temperatures are expected to be unseasonably warm. Sinsabaugh said they will climb into the 40s and possibly the 50s by this weekend, making Friday a pleasant day for those who plan to venture outside on New Year’s Eve.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]

Blizzard clobbers U.S. Northeast, strands travelers

The Associated Press

NEW YORK – Planes began landing again Monday at one of the nation’s busiest airports after a blizzard clobbered the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow and closed the New York metropolitan area’s three airports, stranding thousands of travelers trying to get home after the holidays.

A Royal Jordanian flight was the first to arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport, shortly before 7 p.m., said Steve Coleman, of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airports. Flights were expected to begin arriving at Newark and LaGuardia airports later in the evening.

The storm walloped the Northeast on Sunday, stymieing most means of transportation. Flights were grounded. Buses sputtered to a halt in snow drifts. Trains stopped in their tracks. Taxi drivers abandoned their cabs in the middle of New York’s snow-clogged streets. Even the New York City subway system — usually dependable during a snowstorm — broke down in spots, trapping riders for hours.

Snowfall totals included a foot in Tidewater, Va., and Philadelphia, 29 inches in parts of northern New Jersey, 2 feet north of New York City, and more than 18 inches in Boston.

Some airline passengers could be stuck for days. Many planes are booked solid because of the busy holiday season, and airlines are operating fewer flights because of the economy.

Many side streets in New York City remained unplowed well into the day. Some New Yorkers complained that snowplow crews were neglecting neighborhoods in the outer boroughs in favor of Manhattan.

A testy Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the city’s cleanup effort, saying the furious pace of the snowfall — 2 to 3 inches per hour — required crews to plow streets repeatedly.

At the Manchester Boston Regional Airport outside Manchester, N.H., 25-year-old Alicia Kinney slept overnight in the baggage claim area.

“I’m trying to stay positive,” she said.

The blizzard had a ripple effect on air travel, stranding thousands of people at airports around the country.

Two passenger buses headed back to New York City from the Atlantic City, N.J., casinos became stuck on New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway. State troopers, worried about diabetics aboard, brought water and food as emergency workers worked to free the vehicles.

Not even professional hockey players could beat the frozen conditions. The Toronto Maple Leafs, after defeating the New Jersey Devils 4-1 in Newark, N.J., got stuck in traffic for four hours on their way to the team hotel. Center Tyler Bozak tweeted in one middle-of-the-night dispatch: “Roads closed in new jersey stuck on the bussss. Brutaallll!!”