Monday might have been the first full day of spring, but winter signaled that it wasn’t done with Maine yet, bringing a wintry blast of snow that led to school cancellations and car accidents across southern and central parts of the state.

The storm, which tapered off about 1:45 p.m. in Portland, dropped 6.3 inches of snow in Portland and 7 inches in the York County city of Saco, according to the National Weather Service in Gray. There was a sharp dropoff in snowfall totals inland, with Otisfield in Oxford County getting 1.5 inches of snow.

The final track of the storm, which dumped 8 inches of snow in the Knox County town of Thomaston and 10 inches of snow in some parts of Washington County, created some confusion in one school district and chaos on the roads of southern Maine, where several accidents were reported.

Most school districts in coastal Maine canceled classes Monday morning, but School Administrative District 6 in Buxton did not. Neighboring school districts in Westbrook, the Lakes Region and Thornton Academy in Saco all canceled.

SAD 6 Superintendent Frank Sherburne came under fire for not canceling classes in his sprawling district, which serves students in Buxton, Standish, Hollis, Limington and Frye Island. Sherburne’s call came under scrutiny after an SAD 6 bus carrying middle and high school students went off the road while backing up to pick up a student it had missed. As the driver backed up, the bus tires went off the pavement and into a ditch.

No one was injured and the students were transferred to another bus, but Sherburne took the unusual step of posting an apology on the district’s website.

“I want to apologize for the decision regarding the storm today … the decision was not the correct one, given the way the storm actually tracked,” Sherburne wrote. “We were consistently told that the track would bring 1 to 2 inches of snow – clearly inaccurate. Superintendents on the coast closed because the track was due to hit them with more snow. Neighboring districts and I decided to stay open based on the data we had available.”

Sherburne went on to encourage parents to keep their child home if they disagree with his decision to hold classes during inclement weather.

Despite advance warnings, Monday’s storm surprised some drivers.

In Scarborough, a multi-car accident on Route 114 reported just before 7 a.m. caused significant delays on the heavily traveled section of road near Tender Touch Veterinary Hospital.

Police in Westbrook closed a section of River Road for about 30 minutes before 9 a.m. after multiple cars slid off the road. Crews salted and sanded the roadway, and cleared the vehicles before reopening it.

Multiple minor accidents along the Maine Turnpike snarled traffic, and speeds were reduced to 45 mph for much of the morning.

In central Maine, Augusta police reported slippery conditions making driving difficult, especially on city hills. Sgt. Christian Behr, in a video posted on the police department’s Facebook page, fell while warning drivers about going down steep hills.

“We’re getting slush that comes down sometimes that’s really, really slick,” Behr said before going down.

Monday’s snowfall came on the heels of recent warm weather and a mild winter that prompted early “ice-outs” on Maine lakes and early opening dates for area golf courses. Temperatures were in the 60s just a couple of weeks ago, including a record-breaking 66 degrees in Portland on March 10.

During December, January and February, there were a total of 21 days with temperatures above 50 degrees in Portland, the National Weather Service said.

Riverside Municipal Golf Course in Portland had been set to open Friday, as was Val Halla Golf Course in Cumberland. Officials at Val Halla could not be reached on Monday, but Riverside course manager Ryan Scott said in an email that he would assess conditions Wednesday and determine whether the course was dry enough to open Friday.

Meanwhile, Shawnee Peak in Bridgton pounced on the opportunity presented by Monday’s snowstorm.

“We aren’t ready to say goodbye to you just yet. We’ve decided to reopen for one more day of Spring. Skiing this Saturday, 3/26, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,” was the ski area’s Facebook message Monday.

Pineland Farms in New Gloucester invited cross-country skiers to take one last shot at winter on its Oak Hill trails Monday.

“Due to the warm ground and air temperatures, we are not able to groom this snow. If you would like to come ski at your own risk, Oak Hill is open, but it has not been touched by any grooming equipment,” Pineland Farms said on its website.

The unseasonably mild winter has meant plenty of cash still in municipal and state reserves that had been earmarked for snow cleanup.

The state Department of Transportation had budgeted $34 million for snow removal for the 2015-2016 season, but including Monday’s storm, had spent just over $24 million. The department still had on hand nearly double the amount of salt now than the agency usually has remaining this time of year, DOT spokesman Ted Talbot said.

Last winter, which was among the toughest in recent memory, the state DOT spent $36 million on snow removal.

In Portland, the city budgeted $1.149 million for this winter, but had only spent $892,863, not including Monday’s storm.

Last winter, Portland budgeted roughly the same amount, but spent $2.3 million, and blew through 9,500 tons of salt, 1,500 tons more than usual, city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said.

Chris Kimble, a meteorologist with the weather service, said 47.8 inches of snow had fallen in Portland as of March 21. Last year on this date, Portland had received 91.5 inches of snow. The normal snowfall average is 56.1 inches.

The latest date on record that Portland had a measurable snowfall was May 10-11, 1945, when 7 inches fell, Kimble said.

The forecast for the rest of the week is looking like rain. Kimble said the snow that fell Monday should melt Tuesday with temperatures reaching highs of 40 degrees or more. On Wednesday and Thursday the Portland region should see rain.


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