ALFRED — Whether you’re reading this, paper in-hand or on the internet, forecasters have predicted that the snow was to begin around 8 a.m., and will have fallen for several hours.

Forecasters say the heaviest snowfall in coastal and interior York County will be this afternoon and tonight — with, perhaps, some sleet mixing in at the coast. In Sanford, the National Weather Service Office was forecasting 15 to 23 inches between today and tonight’s snowfall. On the coast, the forecast is for 13 to 21 inches of snow.

There’s a blizzard warning on for all of York and Cumberland counties. That means snow and blowing snow will reduce visibility to a quarter-mile or less for at least three hours, and produce sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles an hour or greater, according to the National  Weather Service.

Meteorologist Eric Schwibs with the National Weather Service Office in Gray at 5 a.m. today said all the snowfall is expected to wind down around 2 or 3 a.m. Wednesday.

Schools are canceled throughout the region. Many municipal governments planned to open on time but close early. Arundel, Alfred and Shapleigh municipal offices were to close at noon. Waterboro town office was to be closed all day.

York County government is closed to all but essential personnel today, with a delayed opening, at 10 a.m., on Wednesday.

All York County courts — including the Superior Court in Alfred, and district courts in Biddeford, Springvale and York, are closed.

The Animal Welfare Society in West Kennebunk is closed today, as is McArthur Library in Biddeford, Springvale Public Library and Goodall Library in Sanford. Nasson Health Care in Springvale is closed, Sanford Transfer Station is closed, and the Saco Food Pantry is closed.

The Shuttlebus-Zoom is closed in York County as is all transportation provided by York County Community Action Corporation.

Just before 7 a.m., the state put out word that all legislative work sessions and public hearings scheduled for this afternoon had been canceled.

There are numerous other closures.

If you live in a community that typically has parking bans, there likely is one.

A good rule of thumb is if you absolutely have to go somewhere today — and emergency personnel advise folks to stay home — is check first to see if your destination is open before you depart.

“Those who can avoid travel should do so,” said Maine Emergency Management Agency Director Bruce Fitzgerald. “If you do have to drive, you should update the emergency kits in your vehicles — including a shovel, scraper, flashlight, batteries, water, snacks, extra clothes, a blanket and an emergency kit — and be sure to let someone know when and where you will be traveling and when you expect to arrive at your destination.”

Other items to add to the list are booster cables, a tow chain or rope, salt or sand and emergency flares, he said.

Central Maine Power said they’re ready for any power outages. Company spokeswoman Gail Rice said CMP has held planning meetings to get ready for today’s rough weather and has pre-positioned crews and equipment to make sure resources are at the ready to restore power, should it fail.

Current forecasts call for the storm to track up the Maine coast, producing heavy snow and gusty winds on Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday, said CMP President Sara Burns. This could put tree limbs into contact with power lines and may create dangerous travel conditions that could lead to car-pole crashes.

Schwibs, at the weather service office, said once this winds down, all should be well — until the weekend — when he hinted at more plowable snow.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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