Thousands of people lost power Thursday, some for much of the day, as a nor’easter marched across the state with intense bands of heavy, wet snow and winds that gusted to 40 mph.

Many areas of the state reported more than a foot of snow by early afternoon, leading to widespread early closures of schools and government offices and difficult travel conditions that turned treacherous Thursday night on the Maine Turnpike. Icy pavement was blamed for a 14-vehicle crash that shut down all northbound lanes of Interstate 95 between Exit 32 in Biddeford and Exit 36 in Saco for about 45 minutes.

A tractor-trailer jackknifed on the icy highway, causing a chain-reaction crash that damaged another tractor trailer, 11 cars and a pickup truck, Maine State Police Cpl. Duane Doughty said. The pickup was the only vehicle that did not have to be towed. No injuries were reported.

Almost 13,000 Central Maine Power Co. customers were still without power just before midnight. Lincoln County had nearly 5,500 outages, with Boothbay accounting for roughly 1,600 of the total. York County, at the same time, had nearly 5,500 outages, including more than 2,000 in South Berwick.

Emera Maine, which provides electrical service to customers in northern and Down East Maine, reported roughly 950 outages just after midnight – nearly all in Hancock County – down from 2,800 at 3:30 p.m.

CMP spokeswoman Gail Rice issued a statement Thursday night that said crews had restored service to 75 percent of the more than 54,000 customers who had lost power during the course of the storm. Outages peaked just before noon Thursday, when more than 26,000 customers didn’t have power.


Rice said most of the storm damage to power lines occurred in southern Maine and in coastal areas. More than 520 crews were in the field Thursday. Despite the effort, the heavy snow on tree limbs was causing new outages, and travel conditions slowed restoration progress. Rice predicted that some customers would remain without power into Friday.

Travel was difficult throughout Thursday and into the night. Things got off to a bad start when Interstate 95 was closed in both directions near Exit 3 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for several hours Thursday morning because power lines were down across the highway, affecting travel to and from Maine. The highway reopened around 10:30 a.m.

Friday should be a much nicer weather day. Michael Ekster, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Gray, said the day in Portland should start with sunny skies before they cloud up. Temperatures should climb into the upper 30s. There could be a few snow showers, but not enough snow to shovel or plow.


Snow had mostly ended by dusk Thursday, and wind gusts also began to subside as the storm moved east, but a winter storm warning remained in place until 7 p.m.

The weather service in Gray posted unofficial snow accumulation totals for the state at 5 p.m. Thursday. Sanford in York County was buried under 19 inches. Saco had 17.1 inches, Berwick and Hollis reported 14, and Kennebunk received 13.3.


A total of 15.4 inches of snow fell at the Portland International Jetport. Other Cumberland County towns got a lot of snow as well. Raymond and Brunswick each reported 14 inches, Gorham 13.7, Standish 11 and South Portland 10.5.

In Lincoln County, Alna was the winner with 14 inches of snow, while South Bristol got 12 inches and Damariscotta 9.

The northern part of the state received less snow, with Millinocket getting 7 inches, Houlton 6 and Ashland 8.

State offices were closed Thursday. Gov. Paul LePage had originally announced a delay until 10 a.m. but changed his mind.

“I encourage Mainers to stay off the roads and avoid traveling unless it is an absolute emergency,” he said in a prepared statement.

Dozens of towns and cities closed schools and municipal offices, and many towns postponed trash collection for the day.


Parking bans remained in effect in Portland, South Portland, Biddeford, Sanford, Yarmouth, Brunswick, Auburn and Westbrook, among other towns.

A full list of cancellations and closing is available at:


In Farmingdale, snow did not deter regulars from stopping in at the Hi-Hat Pancake House for their morning coffee Thursday, even before the restaurant opened at 5:30 a.m.

“I had my two regular guys who come in to get coffee,” server Samantha Preshong said, shortly after the restaurant opened. “Jake’s been plowing here. Doug stops in. He’s on his way to pick up one of the cooks because he has a plow and it’s safer. There’s another regular down there. He’s waiting for his breakfast. So we’ll get our regulars.”

Even before the Hi-Hat opened, Francois Roodman was driving his snowplow route in Augusta, from Western Avenue and the state government complex south to the Hallowell line. Roodman, the animal control officer for the city of Augusta, trained as a relief plow driver last fall and he has been plowing all season.


“When there are storms coming up and they have to send some of the crew members back home to get some rest, they will call me and I will plow for that shift until that crew can come back in and relieve me,” Roodman said from the cab of his plow. “Sometimes it will be eight hours; sometimes it will be 10 hours.”

The wet, heavy snow was a challenge from the outset.

In Livermore, a tow truck pulling a town plow truck up a hill Thursday morning lost traction and started to slide backward on River Road. The trucks jackknifed and the tow truck hit a utility pole and broke it. The plow truck, which had broken down during the night, went down an embankment. A short time later, a plow was reported off the road in Turner.

In Lewiston, at least one city plow broke down as workers struggled to clear the streets and sidewalks.

“It’s been a pretty difficult storm,” said Jon Elie, highway operations manager for Lewiston Public Works, “because of the weight of the snow.”



Department of Transportation spokesman Ted Talbot said about 350 plow trucks were out clearing roads at the storm’s peak, and that drivers encountered tough conditions.

“It’s heavy and wet snow, but it’s the reduced visibility that’s the greatest concern and will be throughout the day,” Talbot said.

The speed limit was reduced to 45 mph for the entire length of the Maine Turnpike for most of the day.

More than two dozen flights into and out of the Portland jetport were canceled or delayed Thursday.

The Amtrak Downeaster was operating its full schedule, but morning trains were delayed because of power outages in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

In York County, officials were keeping a close eye on coastal areas that were battered for four days during the powerful nor’easter last weekend. Many towns reported damaged seawalls and roads and a significant amount of beach erosion.

Press Herald Staff Writer Dennis Hoey, Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Jessica Lowell and Sun Journal Staff Writer Mark LaFlamme contributed to this report.

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