A storm system threatens to bring a messy mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow to parts of Maine beginning late Thursday, making for a treacherous Friday morning commute in Greater Portland and other parts of Maine.

The storm is arriving less than a week after Mainers finished digging out from a nor’easter that dropped more than a foot of snow over most of the state and up to 20 inches in some places, such as Brunswick.

In addition to the prospect of rain and sleet, on top of the recent snow, is extreme cold, said Michael Clair, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray. This year has started with the coldest January in Portland since 2009, according to the weather service.  Clair said the month’s temperature average is 22.3 degrees, but last month the average was 18.5 degrees in Portland, nearly four degrees colder than a typical January.

Winter will keep its grip on the state this weekend. The weather service issued a winter storm advisory Wednesday afternoon for Portland and southern Maine from 1 p.m. Thursday until 7 p.m. Friday. A winter storm advisory is issued when about 4 inches of snow are expected.

A winter storm warning was issued for interior sections, western Maine and the mountains. A winter storm warning is issued when forecasters have 80 percent confidence that more than 6 inches of snow will fall.

In Portland, Thursday will start with rain before changing over to a mix of rain and sleet late at night.

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There is a high likelihood that a corridor of freezing rain and sleet will affect Portland, southwest Maine and southern New Hampshire during the first stages of the storm. But sometime Friday morning, the messy wintry mix will change over to all snow in Portland with the forecast calling for 4 to 6 inches of accumulation.

Inland, the snow totals will increase to as much as 8 to 12 inches in Lewiston-Auburn and possibly higher in the western and northern mountains, Clair said. Accumulations of 6 to 8 inches are forecast for the Augusta and Waterville areas.

“Travel could be very difficult (Friday),” the National Weather Service said in its storm advisory. “The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute.”

Wet, slushy roads on Friday morning could be become slick. Untreated roads will be icy, but unlike the Jan. 29 storm, which generated blizzard conditions, winds should not be a factor in the upcoming storm.

Despite the recent storm, snowfall totals in Portland remained below normal for January. Portland recorded 17.4 inches of accumulation in January 2022, below the normal of 18.6 inches. Portland received just 6.6 inches of snow in January 2021, Clair said. Portland has recorded 29.5 inches of snow since December 2021, once again below the normal accumulation of 36.9 inches.

While the wintry weather is likely to make Friday morning’s commute challenging, it is also expected to improve the conditions for winter recreation across interior regions.

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“It’s one of my favorite times of year, especially once we do get the snow,” Tyler Keniston, stewardship manager for the Winthrop-based Kennebec Land Trust, said Wednesday.

The Kennebec Land Trust lands, either owned by the trust or privately owned with conservation easements, are located across Kennebec County and offer trails and opportunities for outdoor recreation. Keniston said Kennebec Land Trust staff members have noted that use of the trust’s lands tends to drop off in winter. Those who use the trails tend to be a slightly different group than those who use them in the warmer months.

“When we go out there, we see snowshoe trails,” Keniston said. “Or where there’s a pond, people might hike out to fish.”

“It can be harder to get out in the winter,” Keniston said, “but when you don’t get out, it’s easy to get the winter blues. One of the best remedies we find is definitely to get out and do the snowshoeing or the skiing.”

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Jessica Lowell contributed to this report.

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