Parts of northern Maine and the western mountains could get up to a foot of snow from a powerful, late-winter storm set to hit the state Saturday morning, but southern Maine and the coast are likely to get mostly rain and just a dusting of snow.

The storm – the third so-called bomb cyclone to hit the East Coast this year – will begin as rain in the early morning hours across most of Maine, according to meteorologist Michael Cempa, who works out of the National Weather Service office in Gray. It will rain across most of Maine for much of the day.

Snow will begin to fall on the mountain peaks by midmorning, and work its way down to the valleys in the western and northern slopes by midday, he said. Snow will spread to the south and across central Maine in early evening and reach the coast at night, which will see an inch or two at most.

In Greater Portland, people will wake up to patchy fog in the morning, with a temperature of about 38 degrees. The rain won’t switch over to snow until at least 3 p.m. It will be breezy, with an east wind 5 to 10 mph becoming north 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 35 mph.

Maine skiers will wake up to rain but see fresh snow falling by midmorning, Cempa said.

“It hasn’t been a great snow season in Maine, but Sugarloaf will probably do very well, maybe extend their season a little,” Cempa said. “Sunday River less so, seeing more rain in the morning than snow, but they should be doing OK by the afternoon.”


The storm could cause travel problems and power outages across a wide part of the eastern United States from late Friday through early next week, with snowfall totals ranging from about 4 inches in northern parts of Alabama and Mississippi to as much as a foot in northern Maine.

The weather had not delayed any flight departures from Portland International Jetport as of 9 p.m. Friday.

According to the National Weather Service, 8 to 12 inches of snow are expected to fall in the zone that runs along Maine’s northern border, with 3 to 4 inches falling in the southwest to northeast interior strip that runs from Fryeburg to Skowhegan, and 1 to 2 inches from Sanford to Rockland.

The system is referred to by some as an ominous-sounding “bomb cyclone.”

A bomb cyclone has nothing to do with explosions, except in how explosively a storm develops. It is when a storm intensifies rapidly by losing pressure quickly, according to Judah Cohen, a winter storm expert for Atmospheric Environmental Research of Massachusetts.

And that’s bad news for plants that acted as if spring had arrived, Cohen said.

Many crops and plants in the Southeast have started to bud because of the warmer weather up until now. But freezing temperatures – which could include some record lows – expected on the back end of the storm could cause some serious damage.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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