The snow storm doesn’t exist that would shut down a place like Holy Cannoli on Valentine’s Day.

There are too many treats the Waterville Italian food and pastry shop has to make for the holiday.

“I just got a call for a bunch of chocolate-covered strawberries for Valentine’s Day,” Amy Fowler, an employee, said Thursday afternoon. “We have to stay open, it’s a big day for us. … We sold a lot more cannolis this morning when people realized they may be stranded and will be in trouble if they don’t bring anything home for Valentine’s Day.”

Even though the pastry shop stayed open, area schools, state offices and other organizations closed early or canceled Thursday as the region prepped for an end-of-the-week nor’easter. The storm was expected to drop at least a foot of snow on in central Maine by Friday morning.

The snowfall was forecast to be heaviest from Thursday night until the early morning hours Friday, according to Nikki Becker, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gray. The snow is expected to stop early Friday afternoon.

Snow started to fall in the Waterville area at about noon. The storm prompted many school districts in the area to dismiss students early, by 11 a.m. or noon, including the Augusta School District, Waterville-based Alternative Organizational Structure 92 and Skowhegan-based Regional School Unit 54.

In Waterville, public works employees started maintenance for the storm at about 1:30 p.m., according to director Mark Turner.

“We put the initial layer of sand and salt that will hopefully keep the snow from binding on the road surface,” Turner said. “Hopefully traffic levels decrease as the storm gets underway so the cars won’t compress the snow to the road surface.”

Highly trafficked roads, such as Main Street and College Avenue, get regular maintenance once the storm starts, Turner said. Side roads will be plowed and salted once two to four inches of snow accumulates.

“We will definitely be out there until the early evening, making sure commuter traffic gets home safely,” Turner said. “We’ll decide from there if we’ll take a break for a few hours to rest and then go back. Staying out all night is difficult, so we’ll be planning.”

The heavy snow was expected to begin mixing with sleet and rain after nightfall and could switch over entirely to sleet and rain along coastal Maine. Mixing could push inland, but forecasts said the Maine Turnpike will likely be a dividing line between snow and mixed precipitation.

State offices in Kennebec County closed at noon on Thursday, as did those in Androscoggin, Cumberland and York counties.

Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday issued a safety reminder to all those who need to drive during the storm.

“I urge all of you to drive safely as you commute to your destination,” LePage said in the statement. “Please remember to keep a safe distance behind other vehicles and give plow trucks plenty of room to operate.”

Speed limits were reduced to 45 mph on the entire length of the Maine Turnpike and Interstate 295 because of the snow from 11 a.m. Thursday to 11 a.m. Friday, according to the Maine Turnpike Authority.

For closings and cancellations throughout Maine, click here.

Jesse Scardina — 861-9239jscardina@centralmaine.comTwitter: @jessescardina