It’s not even Thanksgiving and Mainers already are shoveling snow and breaking out the snowblowers. They also would be well-advised to locate their long underwear and warmest winter coats.

Even as another early season snowstorm was depositing 7-8 inches on southern Maine Tuesday, forecasters were warning about what they say will be bone-chilling temperatures on Thanksgiving Day. James Brown, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said that the predicted high temperature of only 18 degrees Thursday and winds gusting to 35 mph will create a wind chill that will make it feel like it’s 5 degrees below zero in Portland.

The arctic blast will come on the heels of the second storm to hit Maine in less than a week. Snow began falling across the region Monday night and Tuesday morning and continued throughout the day and into Tuesday evening. The snow-covered roads and reduced visibility prompted many schools to cancel classes for the second time in less than a week.

According to the weather service, snowfall totals as of 9 p.m. Tuesday included 8.5 inches in Standish, 8 inches in Sanford, 7.8 inches in Gorham, 7.5 inches in Falmouth, 7.3 inches in Westbrook and at the Portland International Jetport, and 7 inches in Yarmouth, Biddeford and South Portland. Gray received 6.8 inches of snow, Raymond got 6 inches and North Sebago had 5.2 inches.

Tuesday’s snow will be followed by an arctic front that will move into the area Wednesday and drop temperatures in the region to midwinter conditions a full month before the season officially starts Dec. 21. Snow squalls Wednesday could complicate travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.

“They could cause whiteout conditions for 15 or 20 minutes. It could be quite dangerous,” said Tom Hawley, a weather service meteorologist in Gray.

Authorities said a sudden, intense snow squall Tuesday afternoon contributed to a 30-car pileup on Interstate 95 in Etna that started when a tractor-trailer jackknifed in the southbound lane. Motorists trying to avoid the truck were blinded by the snow and many of them ended up going off the highway. The southbound lanes had to be shut down for more than three hours while road crews moved the truck and damaged cars.

‘A LITTLE BIT OUT OF THE ORDINARY’

The high of 18 degrees predicted for Portland on Thanksgiving is well below the current record-low Thanksgiving Day temperature, 22 degrees in 1989. The lowest temperature on record for November in Portland was 6 degrees in 1875, Hawley said.

Temperatures on Thanksgiving will be even colder inland, with 14 degrees forecast as the high in Fryeburg, Lewiston, Augusta and Waterville.

The National Weather Service is concerned about the dangers presented by the extreme cold, and on its Facebook page Tuesday posted a few tips on how to dress to stay warm, including always wearing a hat because a person can lose half their body heat from the head. People also should cover their mouths to protect their lungs from the extreme cold.

While it seems early for a blast of wintry weather, it’s not unheard of for Maine to see a coating of snow before winter starts. Portland had received roughly 14.6 inches of snow after Tuesday’s storm and would need about another 6 inches before the end of the month to record the city’s 10th snowiest November.

“It’s a little bit out of the ordinary,” Hawley said.

Maine averages just 1.9 inches of snow in November. The snowiest November on record was in 1921, when 24.3 inches fell in Portland.

Snowfall was heavy at times Tuesday, with bands of snow falling at a rate of 1 inch per hour during the middle of the day. Portland announced a citywide parking ban from 10 p.m. through 6 a.m. Wednesday. Auburn, Biddeford, Kennebunkport, Windham, Sanford and York were among the other municipalities to ban parking overnight.

SNOW-DAY GOAL ALREADY MISSED

Another school snow day – the second for many southern Maine districts – may be welcome news to some kids who wanted a day off, but some may regret the early snow days come June. In Sanford, Superintendent David Theoharides called off school for the second time in a week because of the conditions of roads and sidewalks.

“My goal has always been no snow days until after Christmas,” he said. “That got blown out of the water.”

Theoharides said students – and teachers, for that matter – seem to enjoy snow days at the time, but some lament when the school year stretches into summer.

“Certainly, come June when it’s hot and muggy and sticky in a classroom they’ll be complaining,” he said.

Portland and South Portland officials announced that school would be open. Portland Superintendent Xavier Botana posted on Twitter that the city would prioritize clearing sidewalks around schools, which were scheduled for an early release Tuesday. Although it will be bitterly cold Thursday, that won’t stop the 37th annual Portland Thanksgiving Day 4-miler, which starts at 9 a.m. in downtown Portland. This year, more than 1,200 runners were registered by Tuesday.

“We’ve had several races (with temperatures) in the 20s, but I’m not sure we’ve ever had the teens and windy conditions,” said race organizer George Towle.

He said runners are used to dressing in layers, but the volunteers who are out on the course for several hours might find it especially chilly.

“We’re not jumping into the Atlantic,” he said. “It’s going to be a cold morning for sure. People always get to the finish line.” The expected bitter cold Thursday prompted Portland officials to reschedule the 107th annual Thanksgiving Day game between Deering and Portland high schools. The game will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

HIGH TRAFFIC VOLUME PREDICTED

Although it will be cold, Thanksgiving Day is looking like a good day for traveling. After the snow Tuesday and Wednesday, the weather service said the rest of the holiday week is looking like it will be dry and cold.

Brown, the meteorologist, said the area should start to experience a moderate warmup Friday with high temperatures climbing into the mid-20s. The high on Saturday may get into the mid-30s.

AAA is predicting that 54.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 4.8 percent increase over last year.

“The 2018 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume in more than a dozen years with 2.5 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year,” AAA said in a news release.

The Portland jetport did not report any canceled flights Tuesday and had only minor delays, and the Amtrak Downeaster ran on schedule.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

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Twitter: grahamgillian

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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