This year, it was April that came in like a lion.

Hundreds of thousands of Mainers lost power Thursday as a nor’easter brought heavy snow and strong winds to the region. Outages peaked around midday, affecting nearly 350,000 Central Maine Power customers – Cumberland and York counties were the hardest hit – and 16,000 Versant customers.

The utilities said restoration efforts could stretch into next week.

“The damage from these fallen trees is significant and our arborists have observed that this is some of the worst snow loading on trees they have seen in more than a decade,” Jon Breed, spokesperson for Central Maine Power, said Thursday afternoon. “Hundreds of additional line and tree crews are en route to Maine to support the more than 450 external line crews and 250 tree crews already deployed in the field. We are also coordinating the use of cranes to remove large hazard trees in some areas.”

The storm, which arrived in New England on Wednesday evening and was expected to continue into early Friday, prompted officials to close state and municipal offices and schools and warn people to stay home if possible. Snow fell at rates of 1 to 2 inches an hour Thursday morning, creating dangerous travel conditions. Gusts took down trees and, according to Facebook posts, a stoplight on Main Street near Best Western in South Portland.

Shannon Moss, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety, said Maine state troopers responded to 70 crashes and slide-offs on Interstate 95 between 7 p.m. Wednesday and 4 p.m. Thursday. Only five resulted in injuries, she said, and none was life-threatening.


“For the most part, given it’s a weekday, it appears many drivers have heeded the warnings of public safety officials to stay off the roads,” Moss said.

The National Weather Service in Gray said snow would likely continue overnight for interior parts of the state but diminish in intensity, while coastal areas would likely see flakes turn to light rain. Friday and Saturday will have a chance of rain and snow in some parts of the state, and winds will likely be gusty with peaks of 25 to 30 mph.

“It’s not like we’re going to have rain that will wash out all of the snow we just had,” meteorologist Jon Palmer said. “It’ll just be some sprinkles here and there.”

Gov. Janet Mills delayed the opening of state offices until 11 a.m. Friday. South Portland, Scarborough, Windham, Brunswick and other towns planned to open warming centers Friday where residents could charge their phones and possibly take showers. Trash pickup was delayed Thursday to Friday or Saturday in many towns and cities. Some schools – including Biddeford, Westbrook and Brunswick – closed again Friday.

“As crews continue to clear the roads, I urge Maine people to drive safely during the Friday morning commute,” Mills said in a prepared statement. “Plan for extra time, drive with caution, and clear your car off completely. Be sure to move over for plow trucks, utility crews, and first responders working to keep us safe – it’s the law.”

@portlandpressheraldCentral Maine Power Co. says it expects power outages to stretch into early next week “for some customers in hardest-hit areas.” About 48% of CMP customers – 322,000 – were in the dark around 2 p.m. Read more at♬ original sound – Portland Press Herald

The weather service reported more than a foot of snow in many locations by Thursday afternoon, including 14.9 inches at its office in Gray. Inland towns and cities reported the largest accumulations. Reports just before 5 p.m. included 14.5 inches in Lewiston, 12.3 inches in Farmingdale and 14 inches in Windham. In Oxford County, Porter got 16.5 inches. In York County, Acton saw 18.4. The highest so far came from a trained spotter in Shapleigh, who reported 21.5 inches.


Cities and towns closer to the coast saw less snow but still significant accumulation, including 8.1 inches in Falmouth and 6 at the Portland International Jetport.

“The last time we saw numbers like this in April was in 1996,” said Stephen Baron, a weather service meteorologist in Gray.

A pedestrian walks down Congress Street in Portland Thursday morning . Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer


Thursday’s storm came less than two weeks after a powerful snow and ice storm knocked out power to 200,000 CMP customers, some of whom waited days for power to be restored. Cumberland County – where a thick layer of ice blanketed tree limbs and power lines – was especially hard hit.

The number of power outages increased rapidly early Thursday morning, reaching nearly 350,000 customers statewide by noon, before that number gradually started to drop.

The utility restored power to tens of thousands of customers late Thursday. About 260,000 CMP customers, or 39% of the utility’s customers, were still in the dark around 6:30 a.m. Friday. Cumberland and York counties each had around 80,000 outages, while Androscoggin had more than 30,000.


“Given the scale of damage we are seeing, at this time we do anticipate this to be a multiple-day restoration effort, lasting into early next week for some customers in hardest-hit areas,” CMP said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

Source: Central Maine Power

Versant Power reported nearly 16,000 customers were without power as of 2 p.m., the highest number it reported all day. That number dropped below 4,700 by 9:30 p.m. but jumped back up to 5,300 early Friday morning.

“We expect a multiday restoration and for work to continue through the weekend at this time,” Versant said in a message to customers. “Our focus today will be addressing public safety concerns, like downed lines, and assessing damage to identify what repairs need to be made to the system.”

Anna Henderson, general manager of the Kennebunk Light and Power District, said roughly 1,000 of its 7,000 customers lost power at the storm’s peak. By 7 p.m. Thursday, thanks in part to additional line crews from Massachusetts, half had their lights on again. Henderson said restoration would likely continue into Saturday.

The number of outages wasn’t as high as the nearly 3,000 reported during last week’s ice storm.


A portion of Route 9 between Falmouth and Cumberland was closed Thursday while crews removed a downed tree spanning the snow-covered roadway. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“This one seems to be a little more focused on the smaller lines, the feeders in the neighborhoods,” Henderson said, and thanked customers for their patience.

“The ice brought down a lot of the weak trees and limbs,” she added. “The ones that didn’t fall last time came down this time.”

Maine State Police urged the public not to call 911 unless there is an emergency – and not to report power outages.

A spokesperson for Spectrum said in an email Thursday that most of the outages it is seeing is because of commercial power outages across several areas.

“We do have some physical damage to our network, as a result of downed trees on our lines and fiber,” said Lara Pritchard. “We have crews actively working to restore service.”

Richie Simmons shovels the sidewalk in front of the construction site he is working at in Portland on Thursday. Most of the work the crew is doing is inside, but he said they always start by shoveling the temporary sidewalk. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Robbie Moscato was refilling gas canisters for his generator at The Depot in Springvale Thursday afternoon when his wife texted that the internet had gone out, too.


“It’s an official snow day,” he said.

Moscato said he lives “out in the middle of nowhere” in Lyman and the roads were a mess. On his way into town, he said, he was dodging ice-laden trees that bent far over into the road.

He was hoping that the power would come back on soon, but with the snow still falling heavily Thursday afternoon, he wasn’t expecting many crews to be able to get out there. During the storm last month, he said, it took several days for CMP to restore electricity.

“It’s pretty nasty, pretty messy,” he said.


Palmer, from the National Weather Service, expects the storm system to be fully gone from Maine by Sunday.

And Monday is looking – well, bright.

“It’s looking like we scored a perfect window to have really nice weather during the time of the eclipse,” Palmer said. “We’re going to have some very good viewing weather.”

A woman snowblows a driveway along Fletcher Street in Kennebunk on Thursday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Staff Writer Hannah LaClaire contributed to this report.

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