A car passes snow-covered trees while traveling along Whichers Mill Road in Sanford on Friday morning. A nor’easter is bringing rain along the coast and snow to inland areas and the wet, heavy snow could cause power outages. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

The first major storm of the season got off to a messy and dangerous start Friday as a nor’easter pushed a mix of snow and rain into Maine.

Maine State Police responded to 27 crashes, rollovers and slide-offs between 7:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the southern section of the Maine Turnpike, below the Scarborough exit. Police also responded to nine crashes on the southern stretch of Interstate 295 and numerous vehicles off roads in Maine’s southwestern counties.

People were driving too fast and following too close, an extra risky combination when roads are slushy and temperatures are hovering around freezing, said Lt. Lucas Hare, who oversees the turnpike.

“In weather conditions like this, it doesn’t take much to cause a crash,” Hare said. “As traffic picks up again this afternoon, we’re expecting delays and crashes to continue with the evening commute and through the remainder of the storm.”

Hare said no serious injuries were reported in the highway crashes so far, but fluctuating temperatures may bring more treacherous driving as the storm continues into Saturday.

A car that slid off Shaker Hill Road in Alfred rests on its side on Friday afternoon. State Police on the scene said the driver was not injured. The wet, heavy snow from the nor’easter made for treacherous road conditions. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

The storm resulted in numerous closings and early dismissals Friday and Saturday at schools, government offices and public programs as the storm moved through the state.


The National Weather Service was predicting mostly rain along the coast, with wind gusts expected to hit 40 mph Friday night. Most inland areas were expecting 3 to 8 inches of snow, with as much as 16 inches falling farther north and at higher elevations as the system moves northeast through the state.

The storm is expected to linger through Saturday before passing into the North Atlantic. Temperatures will hover in the 30s through the weekend, dropping into the 20s west of Portland and north of Lewiston on Saturday night.

“It’s a very dynamic storm,” said Jon Palmer, meteorologist at the weather service in Gray.

Dana Laine rakes snow off his roof in Sanford on Friday morning. Laine said he wanted to get the snow off the roof before the snow changed over to rain and it got too heavy to remove. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Road maintenance crews were keeping the highways clear and treated to battle ice buildup, Hare said, but they can’t anticipate the impact of sudden slight drops in temperature.

The speed limit on the turnpike had been lowered to 45 mph Friday, he said.

Hare asked that drivers slow down and maintain a safe distance between vehicles. Safety experts recommend at least one car length for every 10 mph in normal driving conditions, so a more generous distance would be wise in snow and ice, he said.


Hare also suggested that people avoid driving during the storm, though he understood many people have holiday shopping to do and parties to attend. With festivities in mind, he also advised Mainers to avoid driving while intoxicated and adding another risk factor for a crash during the storm.

“We always hope for that,” Hare said.

Crashes were reported in inland areas of York and Cumberland counties and throughout Oxford County, police said.

Turnpike crashes Friday morning included a box truck that flipped over and numerous vehicles sliding off the highway into the woods, guardrails and medians, said Shannon Moss, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

“It’s the first big storm of the season,” she said. “People need to get used to driving in conditions like this again.”

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