Freezing rain led to a treacherous, icy morning commute early Friday, and motorists traveling overnight into Saturday should be mindful of the potential for black ice coating roads and making driving hazardous, particularly in interior areas and valleys.

Early Friday morning, a jack-knifed tractor trailer closed all lanes of southbound traffic on the Maine Turnpike near mile 63 in Gray, though the road was reopened by midday. And a cluster of crashes in the northbound lanes of I-95 in Scarborough also snarled traffic as police and tow trucks scrambled to pull motorists out of ditches and assist those whose vehicles overheated or ran out of gas waiting for lanes to open up.

A tow truck operator tends to a vehicle on the north bound lane of the Maine Turnpike where there were several accidents in Scarborough Friday. Staff Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette Buy this Photo

Most of the slick conditions were north of Saco, a turnpike dispatcher said. More crashes were reported up the coast in Brunswick and in central Maine. Slide-offs and minor crashes were reported throughout the early morning around Cumberland County, when temperatures were colder and before salt and sanding crews could reach most roads, according to a Cumberland County dispatcher.

We’re in for dry and sunny days on Saturday and most of Sunday, with high temperatures in the lower 30s in the mountains and lower 40s along the coast, but Sunday night and early Monday could bring the next chance for wet and slippery driving conditions. That system could set up a sloppy New Years’s Eve, said Stacie Hanes, lead meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gray.

“We do have what looks like an elongated system that could come in late Sunday night and stick around until Tuesday,” Hanes said. Snow is likely, starting after 2 a.m. Sunday, with an accumulation of 1 to 2 inches before changing over to a mix of rain and snow along the coast. “But the farther south you go, down toward Boston, the messier it gets. In southwestern New Hampshire, that area will see sleet and freezing rain,” she said.

The system is expected to linger through New Year’s Eve, when there’s another chance for snow.


Friday’s morning commute was hazardous across Maine. In Androscoggin County, multiple motor vehicle accidents were reported in Lewiston, Auburn, Lisbon, Livermore Falls, Mechanic Falls and Greene.

Lewiston Public Works Director Dale Doughty said sanding trucks were “touching up and hitting hot spots” on city streets as rain fell and temperatures hovered around freezing Friday morning. Lewiston Police Lt. David St. Pierre said only three crashes were reported in the city between 7 and 11 a.m. He said sidewalks appeared to be more slippery than roads, but conditions improved as sidewalk sanding progressed and temperatures rose.

In Auburn, Police Chief Jason Moen said the department covered six accidents Friday morning, five on Riverside Drive and one northbound on Washington Street.

“All were slide-offs due to the icy conditions. No serious injuries,” he said.

In Rumford, there were two accidents.

Cooper Davis, 17, of Rumford, was traveling southbound on the South Rumford Road when his car slid off the road, struck a utility pole and caught fire, Sgt. James Bernard of the Rumford Police Department said Friday afternoon.

Davis was transported to a local hospital with a minor injury, and was treated and released, Sgt. Bernard said.

The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta was a total loss, Bernard said, and the crash caused a minor power outage in the area that was addressed by Central Maine Power.

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