WATERVILLE — A mixture of snow, sleet, rain and freezing rain slogged its way across Maine Friday morning, closing many schools and making for dangerous driving conditions.

Precipitation cleared in the afternoon, but as temperatures dropped below freezing at night, roads became slick with ice, causing a multitude of accidents.

Most of the communities across central Maine found themselves along the dividing line of early morning snow, then sleet or freezing rain as the temperature rose, according to Tom Hawley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.

About three inches of snow fell in Waterville by 8 a.m. when rising temperatures caused the shift to freezing rain, with the worst of the storm passing by around noon, Hawley said.

To the north of the city, along a line starting just south of Farmington, most of the precipitation remained snow. Nearly six inches had fallen in Farmington by 8 a.m. Skowhegan had about five inches of accumulation by then, Hawley said.

Emergency dispatchers for Franklin and Somerset counties reported a handful of cars sliding off the road, but no serious weather-related crashes or incidents by noon. The dispatch center in Waterville had not received any reports of motor vehicle crashes by noon. However, later in the day, area dispatchers were reporting numerous road accidents.

Southern areas of the state got mostly a mix of freezing rain and sleet for the duration of the storm, with coastal areas getting hit by rain after a dusting of snow, Hawley said.

Several crashes were reported in Cumberland, York and Knox counties by 9 a.m. There were also scattered power outages statewide, the Associated Press reported.

Mark Turner, the public works director for Waterville, said plows began salting city roads around 3:30 a.m. The changing temperatures and shift from snow to freezing rain made it tough to keep roads clear, but the early start seemed to prevent any major problems, he said.

“Getting out there early makes all the difference,” he said.

Storms that bring a mix of snow and rain typically cause the most problems for plow crews attempting to keep roads clear, Turner said.

“A lot of public works directors describe these as nuisance storms because the present so many different problems,” he said.

Cooler temperatures and drier weather patterns expected Friday night may cause some problems with black ice overnight into Saturday morning in areas where standing water could freeze, Hawley said.

Forecasts predict temperatures in the mid-30s in Augusta and Waterville to start the weekend, with a cold front moving in Sunday dropping temperatures into the 20s, Hawley said.

 

David Robinson — 861-9287

[email protected]


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