PORTLAND — Central Maine Power Co. is working to restore electricity to 19,173 customers and has brought in private crews to help.

The company now has 600 workers in the field working to restore power, said John carroll, a spokesman for the utility.

This morning, York and Cumberland counties were hit hardest but the area of greatest impact has now moved north to Knox and Lincoln counties, with more than 3,000 customers without power in each of those relatively small counties.

;As many as 25,000 customers were without power at one point in the early afternoon, Carroll said.

4 p.m.

The evening commute should be a lot better than the morning drive was for many motorists, though inland temperatures could dip below freezing creating some slippery roads.

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Public works and maintenance crews have been clearing major routes throughout the day and snow switched to rain and light mist in many parts of Cumberland and York counties.

“For people commuting within the next hour or two, most of the heavier snow will come to end, with some lingering showers,” said Margarret Curtis, a spokeswoman for the National Weather Service in gray. “A lot of the secondary roads are still looking at two inches of slush. Icing up, for this evening is a possibility.”

Temperatures right along the coast should stay just above freezing, but inland will fluctuate around the freezing mark.

“Everywhere really is right around freezing,” she said. “This could be one of those situations where the bridges freeze before the road.”

Speeds on the Maine Turnpike were restored mid-afternoon after being lowered to 45 mph for the first half of the day.

3:27 p.m.

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A sloppy spring snowfall sent cars sliding off roads this morning and knocked out power and cable television to isolated areas, but fortunately there were no serious injuries reported.

The heaviest snowfall now stretches from Gray north with a mixture of rain and snow in southern areas, said Butch Roberts of the National Weather Service in Gray.

“It looks like the coastal areas have cleared the heaviest snow,” he said. “Farther on into the foothills it’s still snowing hard.”

Central Maine Power Co. reports that just before noon, there 18,343 homes and businesses without power, most in York and Cumberland counties.

Heavy, wet snow and strong winds were causing the outages.

“While we do considerable tree trimming throughout the year to improve reliability, storms like this with heavy, wet snow and high winds can still be a challenge,” said CMP spokesman John Carroll. “Our first priority right now is to make sure downed wires are grounded, de-energized, and made safe while we assess the damage. We will not be able to provide a reliable projection for restoration until that damage assessment is more complete.”

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In some arreas, entire trees were uprooted from the soft ground and fell onto power lines, he said.

Police and tow truck drivers were kept busy throughout the morning commute hours as dozens of cars throughout York and Cumberland counties and the midcoast failed to handle the slippery conditions and wound up off the road, down embankments and in some cases into utility poles.

“During the commute we had cars off the road everywhere, so fast we couldn’t keep up with them,” said Buxton dispatcher Kathy Mullen.

The speed limit on the Maine Turnpike was lowered to 45 mph before the commute even began but there were still many cars that went off the road or slid into each other, dispatchers said. The speed limit on Interstate 295 was lowered to 40 mph.

It was slow going throughout the region.

“What we’re dealing with are extremely slippery roads. The slush is creating a lot of problems,” said Saco Sgt. Bruce Cote. “Public Works is doing the best they can to keep up with the snow pack. Now it’s changing from snow to rain and now we’re getting a mix.”

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The major city roads weren’t too bad, but secondary roads were harder to negotiate and needed to be handled with extra caution, he said.

In Scarborough, a trash truck went off the road into a utility pole on Pleasant Hill Road near Chamberlain Road, leading public safety officials to shut down the road while the truck was removed and the wire repaired.

8:21 a.m.

A spring storm that hit overnight has made for a messy commute, with cars “sliding off everywhere,” according to one police dispatcher.

The speed limit on the Maine Turnpike was lowered to 45 mph from Kittery to Augusta early this morning but police said there have still been crashes from York to Gray, with the southern end of the Maine Turnpike having the most.

Central Maine Power Co. is bracing for power outages caused by the several inches of snow forecast and gusting winds.

 

 


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