And just like that, it’s winter.

The season’s first snowstorm dumped more than 6 inches on parts of southern Maine Tuesday after an unprecedented stretch of warm weather that included a 60-degree Christmas Day.

The second-latest snowfall in Portland’s history delivered more than 12 hours of driving snow and sleet, snarling traffic and contributing to many car crashes and slide-offs.

The Portland International Jetport received 6.7 inches, and the heaviest snowfall occurred in the mountains, the National Weather Service said.

James Brown, a meteorologist with the weather service in Gray, said Carrabassett Valley got 10 inches of snow and Eustis received 9 inches Tuesday.

Dec. 29 is the second-latest date recorded for Portland to get its first measurable snowfall. The latest on record was Jan. 16, 2000, and the second-latest had been Dec. 24, 1912.


On average, Portland has received 13.4 inches of snow by Dec. 29, Brown said.

For Rick Wood, the change in the weather meant finally putting away the Honda scooter he has been using to commute from Westbrook to his business, Rick’s Lobby Cafe, at 400 Congress St. in Portland.

“I was using it all season till yesterday. Today I drove an actual vehicle,” he said Tuesday, noting that the 20-minute trip into town took almost 40 minutes. Looking out at a steady snow, he said the changeover was jarring.

“I was greeting my Christmas guests in shorts and a T-shirt,” he said.

Wednesday’s high temperature should be in the low 30s and there will be lingering freezing drizzle, but Thursday’s forecast calls for clearing and highs in the low 40s, the weather service said.

In Maine’s largest city Tuesday, public works crews were marshaling 80 pieces of snow-removal equipment, including sidewalk sweepers and sand spreaders, to handle a storm that started at 2 a.m.


City Manager Jon Jennings said the city held multiple planning meetings the day before the storm.

“We were ready to go. In some ways it was kind of like a racehorse waiting to get out of the starting gate because we hadn’t had snow,” Jennings said.


Steve Earley, who helps lead snow-clearing operations for the city, said some crews started as early as 4 a.m. Each team has different areas of responsibility, with some charged with clearing snow at fire stations and others at city offices.

There were some complaints that the city didn’t clear streets faster.

The two-person crew that cleans off City Hall’s plaza and steps tended to the Police Department first because municipal offices didn’t open until 8 a.m. That meant some early risers had to negotiate unplowed sidewalks or walk in the street.


“Certainly there are going to be those areas we just haven’t gotten to,” Jennings said. “We can’t get to everything immediately.”

But by midafternoon Tuesday, there had been just three complaints about unplowed streets to the city’s Fix It! Portland app, all from people whose residential streets had not been plowed, city officials said. The app allows people to report problems ranging from trash not being picked up to broken street lights.

Jennings said that during a storm, the city concentrates on keeping the major arteries open, and then after it stops snowing, will fan out to clear smaller residential roads. He said it is difficult to clear down to pavement when it’s still snowing.

“We were grading down and plowing down as far as you could. Once cars were passing through, they were packing it,” he said Tuesday morning.

Sidewalk complaints usually start coming in the day after a storm because private property owners in Portland have 24 hours after a major storm ends to clean off their sidewalks. Teams of volunteers are available to help older residents and people with disabilities to shovel their sidewalks. They can be reached by calling the city’s Office of Elder Affairs at 541-6620.

The speed limit was reduced to 45 mph for the entire length of the Maine Turnpike, but that didn’t prevent a tractor-trailer from crashing at 6 a.m. Tuesday at mile 14 northbound between York and Wells, blocking two lanes and causing delays while the accident was cleared.



Maine State Police and local police departments responded to several minor crashes related to the weather.

Cumberland firefighters also responded to an oil truck rollover on Greely Road at about 2 p.m. Tuesday. Nobody was injured, but a small amount of oil spilled and the Department of Environmental Protection was called in.

Many senior centers, adult day-care facilities, colleges and courthouses across the state were closed Tuesday.

Parking bans were in place in many communities, including Brunswick, Sanford, Windham and Old Orchard Beach. Portland did not declare a parking ban.

Several flights to New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Charlotte, North Carolina, that were scheduled to leave the Portland jetport Tuesday were canceled, with two other flights to Detroit and Chicago delayed.


Bangor International Airport also reported that several flights were canceled because of the weather.

The state’s snowfall totals varied widely depending on the region.

The weather service reported that Durham got 4.3 inches; Falmouth, 6.2; Brunswick, 3; Bath, 5.2; Saco, 7; and Wells, 4.


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