A winter storm that will bring heavy, wet snow, rain and powerful wind gusts to Maine on Monday has put the state’s two major utility companies and the state agency that monitors emergency preparedness on high alert.

The Maine Emergency Management Agency, in an announcement issued Sunday, said that it has been working closely with Central Maine Power Co. and Versant Power Co. to ensure that line crews will be ready to respond to any outages caused by the snowstorm.

Scattered power outages are likely because of two factors: heavy, wet snow over inland areas and wind gusts reaching up to 65 mph on the coast. A combination of heavy, wet snow and strong winds have the strength to knock trees and branches onto power lines.

“Given the nature of this storm, we anticipate that scattered power outages are possible,” MEMA Director Peter Rogers said Sunday in a news release. “In addition to unsafe driving conditions, we also urge Maine folks to be cautious while shoveling out from the storm.”

The National Weather Service office in Gray on Sunday issued a high wind warning effective from 5 a.m. through 4 p.m. Monday. The warning calls for wind gusts 0f 55 to 65 mph along the coast stretching from York County to Waldo County. Widespread power outages are expected, according to the warning. The highest wind gusts are expected to occur during the morning and midday hours, but should diminish by late afternoon.

The impact of Monday’s storm will also depend on where people live. While coastal communities will escape large snow accumulations, they will be impacted by high winds. Interior and mountainous regions will be dealing with a lot of heavy, wet snow, with mountain regions expected to see up to a foot of snow. Some inland areas could see snow falling at a rate of 1 to 3 inches per hour. Meanwhile, strong winds are expected to batter the coast, with gusts exceeding 60 mph in the Machias and Eastport region. The National Weather Service office in Caribou is forecasting snowfall amounts of 6-10 inches in Somerset and northern and central Piscataquis County.

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“We are looking at a wide variety of impacts,” Derek Schroeter, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Sunday evening. “Closer to the coast we’d expect to see power outages just from the sheer force of the wind.”

Schroeter said the storm will start out as snow in Portland and coastal regions before changing over entirely to rain around 11 a.m. Portland will get anywhere from a coating of snow up to 2 inches before it starts to rain. But inland communities are in line for a lot of snow, ranging from 6 inches around Sebago Lake to northern Cumberland County to 8 to 12 inches of snow in the mountains.

CMP and Versant said they are mustering their forces in preparation for the messy, winter onslaught.

CMP issued a statement ahead of the snowstorm letting customers know that its crews are prepared to deal with outages that could be caused by “some challenging weather.” CMP said it expects the storm, which was to move into Maine late Sunday night, to have its greatest impact throughout the day Monday.

“This is a tough time of the year when it comes to the weather in Maine,” CMP’s vice president of electronic operations, Adam Desrosiers, said in a news release. “…We are preparing for what is looking to be a very messy winter storm. Heavy wet snow, like what is forecast on Monday, also causes trees and limbs to break and fall onto power lines, ultimately resulting in outages. Regardless, we are prepared, with internal crews and additional resources ready to respond should outages occur.”

CMP serves about 646,000 customers in 346 communities in central and southern Maine.

“We have internal crews, local contract crews and tree crews on standing on Monday ready to respond if winds or fallen tree limbs cause damage to the electrical system,” Larry Rocha, storm manager for Versant Power, said in a statement. Versant serves utility customers in the Bangor and Presque Isle regions as well as Down East Maine.

Because the snow accumulations are expected to be wet and heavy, MEMA advised residents who must shovel snow to push it instead of lifting it whenever possible. MEMA also advises that residents bend their knees as well as to lift snow with their legs, not their backs. Avoid shoveling after eating or while smoking and be sure to pace yourself because shoveling can raise a person’s heart rate and blood pressure, MEMA warns.


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