A SNOW THROWER clears the sidewalk along Bank Street in Brunswick before dawn this morning.

A SNOW THROWER clears the sidewalk along Bank Street in Brunswick before dawn this morning.

BRUNSWICK

The first blizzard of the year blew into the Midcoast on Thursday morning and, as promised, brought increasingly powerful wind gusts with it.

As of Thursday night, however, it hadn’t caused any major problems for motorists. Local police responded to some vehicles that slid off the road, but most motorists tried to get home before visibility turned into white-out conditions. The winds, which reached 50 miles per hour, led to snow drifts, as forecasted.

Fortunately, there were no widespread power outages as of Thursday evening.

Central Maine Power’s website reported 11 outages in Harpswell, which had been in the dark for about a week following October’s windstorm. There were also some outages in Sagadahoc County, but many communities such as Bath survived an afternoon and evening of high winds with the lights on.

Public safety officials had warned residents to stay home if possible. Schools, municipal and state facilities were closed and many businesses closed early. Bath Iron Works, the region’s largest employer, canceled their first and second shift Thursday as well.

On Thursday evening, most school systems were announcing the likelihood of minimum two hour start-time delays today to allow for snow cleanup.

There was some coastal flooding that caused some problems when the tide was high mid-day. The marsh south of Fisher Eddy Road in Arrowsic flooded, causing a single-lane closure on Route 197. Route 209 by Popham Beach State Park in Phippsburg also had about a foot of water covering it before receding with the tide. Popham was essentially an island, Phippsburg Police Chief John Skroski reported, as of 12:41 p.m. Thursday.

In Harpswell, video posted by Cook’s Lobster and Ale House showed dramatic footage of winds whipping snow around and high water rolling into the Bailey Island wharf next door. The restaurant was not breached.

According to the National Weather Service, Portland reached its third highest tide on record Thursday afternoon and there were reports of flooding along the southern coast of Maine and New Hampshire.

Brunswick Fire Chief Ken Brillant said early Thursday afternoon that with the potential of flight fluffy snow, and quantity and the blowing, he was concerned that anyone with a monitor heater that vents out of a side wall close to the ground could be blocked by snow. He advised people to keep vents clear of snow, so that carbon monoxide can escape.

With the cold temperatures returning for the weekend, Brillant reminded people again not to use an open flame device or torch to thaw frozen pipes.

Lastly, he again advised those using space heaters not to leave them unattended, or even to leave the room while its in use.

Given the storm conditions and possibility of people losing power and heat, several warming centers have been designated in the Midcoast and can be found at maine.gov/mema or call 211.

On Thursday, the Brunswick Recreation Department was open for 24 hours to serve as a warming center during the storm. It was also to be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and Saturday. While there are shower facilities available there, food was not being provided.

The town’s emergency management director was to re-evaluate conditions today to see if additional sheltering options were necessary.

MEMA tips

The Maine Emergency Management Agency on Thursday offered tips to help combat cold temperatures.

To prevent frozen pipes:

• Locate and insulate pipes most susceptible to freezing, typically those near outer walls, in crawl spaces or in the attic. Use insulation made especially for this purpose.

• Wrap pipes with heat tape (UL-approved).

• Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.

• Disconnect garden hoses and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.

• Let hot and cold water trickle at night from a faucet on an outside wall.

• Open cabinet doors to allow more heat to get to non-insulated pipes under a sink or appliance near an outer wall.

• If away, have someone check your house daily to make sure the heat is still on.

If pipes freeze:

• Make sure you and your family know how to shut off the water in case pipes burst. Stopping the flow of water can minimize the damage to your home. Call a plumber and contact your insurance agent. Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch.

• Always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.

• Generators should not be used inside or in an enclosed space such as a porch or garage. They must be properly installed and situated at least 15 feet away from a home or business. Those using generators or alternate heat sources should also have working carbon monoxide detectors.

To prevent hypothermia:

• Dress in layers.

• Wear a warm hat — 30 percent of heat loss is through the head.

• Wear a scarf and gloves.

• Infants should be in a room in which the temperature is 61-68 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Drink plenty of fluids and warm/hot drinks.

• Eat regular balanced meals to give you energy — good nutrition is important.

• Keep active when it’s cold, but not to the point of sweating.

• Keep dry and change out of wet clothes as soon as possible.

• Cut down on alcohol, caffeine and nicotine, since all three cause heat loss.

• Try to keep one room in the house warm.

• Ask your doctor if you are on any medications that affect your ability to maintain a steady body temperature (such as neuroleptic medications and sedative hypnotics).

For preparedness, shelter and safety information, visit MainePrepares.com, or visit MEMA on Facebook or Twitter. Information is also available by calling 211 or contacting your town office, fire or police department.

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