A nor’easter expected to strike Maine on Thursday will likely bring mostly rain to Portland and other coastal regions, but is expected to leave inland and mountain areas buried under up to 2 feet of snow.

Strong winds will accompany the storm and power outages are likely, state officials said. The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for York and Cumberland counties from midnight Thursday through 8 a.m. Friday, with gusts up to 50 mph.

Snow is supposed to begin falling in many areas of the state around noon Thursday. But only an inch or two is expected in Portland and along the coast, said Andy Pohl, a forecaster with the weather service office in Gray.

“I think we are going to see a lot of rain on the coast,” Pohl said Wednesday evening. The storm could also produce thunder and some cloud-to-cloud lightning, or “thundersnow,” he said.

Pohl said meteorologists disagree on exactly where the rain-snow line will be.

“The models are not showing any kind of consensus, so we have to try and use our experience and give it our best shot. There will be places where the forecast is wrong, and there will be some where it’s right. That’s just the nature of the beast,” Pohl wrote on the weather service’s Facebook page.

He is forecasting a sharp snowfall gradient about 20 miles inland. Lewiston could get up to 12 inches, but much lower amounts are expected closer to the coast.

Towns such as Fryeburg and Rumford could get 18 to 24 inches, according to a storm map on the weather service’s Facebook page. Rangeley and Eustis should get 12 to 18 inches.

Officials with the weather service, Maine Emergency Management Agency, Maine Department of Transportation, Maine Turnpike Authority, Maine State Police and utility companies held a storm planning meeting Wednesday afternoon “for what is expected to be the most significant storm yet this winter season.”

“Because it’s the first really big storm of the season, we want to remind people to take some time to plan ahead,” Pete Rogers, deputy director of the emergency management agency, said in a written statement Wednesday. “We’ve spent much of the day reaching out to utilities and emergency services agencies to ensure everyone is as prepared as possible.”

Central Maine Power Co., which serves southern Maine, also warned customers of potential power outages.

“Current forecasts call for a major winter storm to track up the Maine coast, producing heavy, wet snow and gusty winds on Thursday and Friday that could bring down trees and power lines,” CMP warned in a written statement. Sara Burns, CMP’s president, said employees will be on heightened alert.

Emera Maine, which provides electricity to northern and eastern Maine, also said the storm will likely cause power outages among its customers.

“The combination of ice, snow, strong winds and treacherous travel conditions are all areas of concern with this storm,” Brad Flannery, manager of line and meter operations for Emera, said in a written statement Wednesday.

Portland public works crews spent Wednesday hooking up plow gear, mixing salt and sand and loading trucks, said Jessica Grondin, city spokeswoman.

“We don’t yet know if there will be a parking ban,” Grondin wrote in an email. She said bans are usually called by noon. More information regarding parking bans is available at portlandmaine.gov/snowbans.

Ted Talbot, spokesman for the Maine DOT, said his agency is prepared for challenging weather conditions.

“At the height of the storm we will have more than 350 plow trucks on the road,” Talbot said.

Peter Mills, director of the turnpike authority, said he expects to have the full contingent of 80 plow truck drivers deployed Thursday.


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