PORTLAND — A fast-moving snowstorm arrived just in time for the morning commute in Maine, packing the biggest wallop so far this winter.

By 8:30 a.m., heavy snowfall blanketed the streets in Portland, severely limited visibility and shut down schools.

Authorities in York and Cumberland counties had already begun reporting a series of accidents, including several with injuries.

Meanwhile, the Maine Turnpike Authority lowered speed limits on the highway from Kittery to Gray to 45 miles per hour.

The last major snowfall was back in late October. Officials say Maine’s snowpack is currently at one of its lowest levels on record for this time of year.

Today’s snowfall was expected to add up to 5 to 9 inches of snow in interior Maine and New Hampshire, with coastal Maine and Vermont seeing 3 to 6 inches, said meteorologist James Brown from the National Weather Service.

The snow is a welcome relief for skiers, snowmobilers and other outdoors enthusiasts.

Most northern New England ski areas have snowmaking to get snow on some trails, but having a significant storm is important for the “backyard syndrome” so people see snow and get in the winter mindset, said Greg Sweetser, executive director of Ski Maine. The storm also arrived in time for the three-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, an important weekend for both downhill and cross-country ski areas.

“People have enjoyed not having to shovel snow so far this winter,” Sweetser said. “But on the other hand, people really are ready.”

With the lack of snow so far this season, none of Vermont’s snowmobile trails had opened by the start of this week, and only a few trails were open in New Hampshire and Maine.

Bob Meyers, executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association, said the situation was so bleak that the association was asking people through its Facebook page to do snow dances in hopes of conjuring up a storm.

“Everybody’s been anxious,” Meyers said. “There’s a huge pent-up demand.”

For a detailed look at local and regional weather forecasts, clck here.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.