Maine’s first blizzard of the season Saturday brought wind gusts near 60 miles an hour to Portland and had dropped nearly a foot of snow in some areas by 6 p.m., yet a majority of the state’s residents were spared the calamity of surviving the cold without power.

Despite the driving snow and constantly swirling winds – which made driving extremely difficult – the number of power outages during the day was relatively small. At 6:30 p.m. Central Maine Power reported  1,721 of its 661,715 customers in southern and central Maine were without power. Bangor-based Versant Power, which serves northern and Down East parts of the state, reported around the same time that 3,692 of its 165,205 customers were without electricity.

By 6 p.m. Saturday, a gust of 59 miles per hour had been reported at the Portland International Jetport while winds were clocked at 86 miles per hour at a floating buoy off Bar Harbor, said Chris Legro, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.

Legro said Saturday evening that wind gusts of 40 to 50 miles per hour would continue until about midnight, but less frequently than they did earlier in the day. He said the heaviest snow of the storm, which started around midafternoon, would continue to fall until around 7 or 8 p.m. He said a swath of the state from southern Maine and Greater Portland to Bangor and Houlton was still on target to get 12 to 18 inches of snow by storm’s end, which had been the original prediction. Much of the Portland area will likely be on the lower end the totals’ spectrum, Legro said.

A blizzard warning issued by the National Weather Service for south central and southwest Maine was to remain in effect until 6 a.m. Sunday.

Traffic is sparse on Interstate 295 in Portland on Saturday. (Staff photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer) Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

People wanting to shovel out Sunday morning might want to wait till the afternoon, Legro said, as early morning temperatures will be around 5 degrees at 7 a.m. in Portland but feel like minus-10 because of strong winds. By the afternoon temperatures should creep up to about 20, he said. The Bangor area might be a little warmer in the morning, but colder in the afternoon as cold air moves west to east.


The light, fluffy snow combined with high winds for the duration of the storm means many surfaces, including car roofs, might have a lot of the snow blown off them by the time the shoveling starts. But the winds might leave drifts of 2 or 3 feet covering other areas.

By 6 p.m. Saturday snow measurements included 7.5 inches in Lewiston, 8 inches in Cape Elizabeth, 9.5 inches in Waldoboro, 11 inches in Bangor and 11 inches in the Down East town of Perry.

A 3-foot wide tree came crashing through the roof of a one-story house in Raymond. Cumberland County Sherriff’s Office photo

Saturday’s high winds caused major damage to a home in the Lakes Region town of Raymond, near the intersection of Brown Road and Webbs Mills Road (Route 85). A 3-foot wide tree was felled by the storm around 3:30 p.m. and came crashing through the roof of a one-story house, said Cathy Gosselin, deputy chief of Raymond Fire and Rescue. The tree went through the roof and landed in the living room while four people and two dogs were at home.

A 45-year-old woman was struck with debris, but was pulled from the wreckage by the others. She was treated for minor injuries on the scene. One of the dogs got out of the house safely but another was trapped in the home and had to be rescued by firefighters, according to a release from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. The dog was not inured.

Raymond was also hard-hit by power outages, with CMP reporting 334, the most in Cumberland County, around 4:30 p.m. Temperatures in the teens kept the snow light and fluffy, which is probably one reason why there were relatively few power outages by midafternoon, said Michael Eckster, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gray.

“If the snow was wet and heavy it would be a different story, but there are no leaves on the trees so the snow is just blowing right through,” said Eckster.


Maine State Police dealt with at least one storm-related accident around 10:55 a.m. Saturday, when the driver of a red Toyota pickup truck crashed into the wing of a Maine Turnpike Authority plow truck on the turnpike in Lewiston. The driver of the pickup truck was in the passing lane and traveling too fast given the snowy road conditions, according to a release from Shannon Moss, spokesperson for state police.

Holly Smevog of Cape Elizabeth gets groceries early Saturday morning at the start of a predicted nor’easter, at Hannaford’s in South Portland. She says she’s a procrastinator. Michele McDonald/Staff Photographer

The driver of the pickup tried to go around the plow on the median side, but didn’t have enough room and hit the plow, which bent back and punctured the tank that holds the salt solution used to treat roads. There were no injuries to either driver.

Other than that accident, troopers were reporting light traffic with only a few cars sliding off roads, Moss said. The speed limit on the Maine Turnpike was lowered to 45 miles per hour Saturday.

Portland Police Department Lt. Robert Doherty said Saturday afternoon that the swirling winds and drifting snow had made the city quiet.

A pickup truck struck the left wing of a Maine Turnpike plow truck Saturday morning at mile 83 of Interstate 95 northbound in Lewiston. Maine State Police photo

“We’ve had a few calls for services, disturbances,” Doherty said. “Very few pedestrians are out there, and people are staying off the roads. We’ve had zero crashes. The snow’s coming down, the wind’s picking up right now.” That’s keeping people indoors, he said. “It’s winter in Maine.”

Portland city spokesperson Jessica Grondin said that visibility was the main issue on city roads Saturday. She said most people had already moved their cars and were staying off the streets, which is a big help for plow truck drivers.


Parking bans are in place through Sunday in Portland and other municipalities, and all flights have been canceled at the Portland International Jetport. The Maine Turnpike reduced its speed limit to 45. Even in-person school has been called off for Monday out of concern crews will need time to clear sidewalks.

The blizzard warning was the first issued for the Portland area since 2018. To be categorized as a blizzard, a storm must have three or more hours of wind gusts over 35 mph and visibility of less than a quarter-mile.

A letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service hustles up a driveway Saturday on Waterville Road in Unity after his mail truck came to rest in a snowbank as a nor’easter pounds the state. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Total snowfall for the winter so far is dramatically below normal. Portland has only seen 18.6 inches of snow, more than 15 inches below normal. “But we’ll be chipping away at that today,” said weather service meteorologist Michael Clair.

CMP had 200 employees, 286 contractors and nearly 300 tree workers ready to respond to outages Saturday evening and overnight as the storm raged on, according to an email from the company around 5:20 p.m.

CMP also brought in utility crews from New York, spokesperson Catharine Hartnett said, and positioned workers around the state in areas expected to bear the brunt of the storm. She said crews were available because the New York utilities owned by CMP’s parent company, Avangrid, weren’t expected to be hit hard by the storm. Harnett said the forecasted fluffy snow normally doesn’t cause a lot of problems for CMP. But she said the strong winds could bring trees down on power lines.

Greater Portland Metro suspended all bus service Saturday because of blizzard conditions, with service expected to resume Sunday. Bangor canceled its Community Connector Bus Service and ADA Paratransit Service for Saturday.


All Saturday flights in and out of Portland International Jetport were canceled. Service at the airport is expected to resume by midmorning Sunday.

The Amtrak Downeaster reduced service on Saturday and Sunday because of storm impacts across New England. On Saturday, trains 696, 697, 698 and 699 are canceled. Train 690 on Sunday is canceled, but all other trains are expected to be running that day.

In Wells, a section of Webhannet Drive was closed Saturday in anticipation of coastal damage.

In South Portland, the Winterfest event scheduled for Saturday was canceled, and the community center and pool were closed.

Staff writers Gillian Graham and Edward D. Murphy contributed to this report.

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