The first winter storm of 2015 was expected to drop 3-5 inches of snow on Greater Portland late Saturday before switching to freezing rain and then all rain by early Sunday.

Meteorologist Mike Kistner with the National Weather Service office in Gray said the winter event was more of a “nuisance storm” than a blockbuster.

Snow began falling in southern Maine late Saturday afternoon and Kistner said it would gain intensity and continue through most of the night.

In the Bangor area, snow was not expected to start until after 9 p.m. Saturday, according to National Weather Service officials in Caribou. Most of Greater Bangor and areas to the north were likely to see anywhere from 4 to 7 inches.

The Maine Turnpike Authority had salt, sand and plow trucks in the field by 6 p.m. Saturday, maintaining the highway between Kittery and Augusta. The speed limit was reduced to 45 mph by about 6:30 p.m. and remained there through the evening.

Kistner said that by midnight in Portland, precipitation would turn to freezing rain, and by about 4 a.m. Sunday it would become rain entirely.

Farther north and inland, there was more snow expected – up to 8 inches in Oxford County – because the temperatures would be slower to climb.

“But there probably won’t be much snow left by Sunday, although whatever is on the ground will be wet and heavy,” Kistner said.

Roads started to become slippery by late Saturday and blowing snow lowered visibility in some areas. Some minor accidents were reported in Cumberland and York counties beginning after 7 p.m. Saturday, according to dispatchers, but none was considered serious.

Travel conditions were expected to remain messy by Sunday morning, when many people would likely be traveling at the end of the holiday weekend. However, temperatures will rise into the 40s in most areas, so the snow and ice will not stay frozen, and Kistner said freezing rain after snowfall is much preferable to the opposite.

Several church services set for Sunday morning in Greater Portland were canceled.

Brunswick issued a parking ban for all streets and municipal parking lots between midnight Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday. Other communities with parking bans include Biddeford, Saco, Sanford, Lewiston and Windham.

The city of Portland had not posted any parking restrictions as of Saturday night.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

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