A forecast of strong wind and heavy rain across New England may slow people traveling for Thanksgiving, but it isn’t going to keep Fairfield native Airami Bentz and her family from returning home for her mother’s homemade banana cream pie.

Bentz and her family will joins millions of people across the country who will travel to gather with family and friends for Thanksgiving.

Bentz, who lives in Marion, Mass., with her husband, Michael, their children Jessa and Cole and their dog Loki, will make their annual Thanksgiving journey back to Fairfield this afternoon. That despite forecasts that call for up to four inches of rain in Maine and wind gusts up to 35 to 40 miles per hour on the coast, a day after the area was treated to its first accumulating snowfall.

“The image my kids have of going to Maine for Thanksgiving usually involves snow,” Bentz said. “Driving north, part of the adventure is what will the weather do?”

Bentz, a high school English teacher at Nauset Regional High School in North Eastham, Mass., is one of roughly 43.4 million Americans expected to travel 50 miles or more for the Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA, with roughly 90 percent of people traveling by car.

The added congestion on the highway due to the holiday combined with poor driving conditions in New England could make travel difficult, but that’s nothing new for the lifelong New Englander Bentz.

“We’ve had some hairy drives back to Maine for the holidays,” Bentz said, adding that her husband, who is a high school math and science teacher, will do most of the driving. “He seems to understand the physics of the weather.”

Bentz and her family visit her parents, Katherine and Cameron Bogle, each year for Thanksgiving. Bentz’s mother, Katherine Bogle, makes the typical Thanksgiving meal, including turkey, squash, potatoes, cranberry sauce and of course, pies.

“I’m doing a banana cream pie and a chocolate cream pie. Those are the ones that the grandkids think are the cat’s meow,” Bogle said.

Getting back to Maine for Thanksgiving is important to Bentz.

“Every year we go to Maine for Thanksgiving, and we spend time with my husband’s family for Christmas,” Bentz said.”It’s the only chance we’ll have to see my parents for the holidays.”

Morning snow, warming up

A winter weather advisory was issued by the National Weather Service in Gray for Wednesday morning, and it recommended people delay travel until the potential snow, sleet or freezing rain turns to just rain. Even then, travel conditions will be harsh as up to four inches of rain are expected to fall, accompanied by high wind.

“The rain will cause travelers to slow down due to the potential of hydroplaning and lower visibility,” said Tom Hawley, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Gray. “It won’t be as bad as a snow storm, but it won’t be fun driving with this weather when it’s congested and people are in a hurry.”

Temperatures are expected to warm up through Wednesday, according to the forecast, but heavy rain and high wind is expected throughout the busy travel day.

Those traveling early Thanksgiving day should be wary of the day’s previous rainfall freezing over as the temperature drops through Wednesday night into Thursday. Heavy wind is also expected on Thanksgiving.

An inch or two of snow is expected to fall in central Maine Wednesday morning before the precipitation turns to rain. The rain should subside by 8 p.m., Hawley said.

First snow causes fender-benders

Areas of Kennebec and Somerset counties were treated with their first snowfall of the year Tuesday, with about an inch or two of accumulation, according to the weather service in Gray.

While it wasn’t much, the surprise of the first snowfall and slick commuting conditions led to roughly 25 reported accidents in the two counties, according to state Department of Public Safety and the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department. Franklin County had little snow and no reported accidents.

Police throughout Kennebec County responded to dozens of accidents during early morning Tuesday. None of those crashes caused serious injury, police said.

Lt. Aaron Hayden of the state police said Troop D, which covers the southern portion of Kennebec County as well as the mid-coast area of Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Waldo, Knox counties, responded to four crashes. Troop C, which covers northern Kennebec County as well as Somerset and Franklin counties, responded to 14 crashes. Hayden said only one of those 14 crashes involved an injury and the person declined to take an ambulance to the hospital.

Augusta police responded to 13 crashes between 5 a.m. and noon. There was just one crash reported in Gardiner. That accident occurred in the middle school parking lot and one of the vehicles was parked, said Chief James Toman.

Chief Deputy Ryan Reardon of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office said deputies responded to 13 crashes, most of which he described as fender-benders. The crashes occurred throughout the county, including Belgrade, Fayette, Litchfield, Manchester, Mount Vernon and Sidney.

None of the crashes caused injury except one in West Gardiner, Reardon said. A woman was taken to the hospital with chest injuries that likely resulted from the seat belt. The injuries were not believed to be life threatening.

Reardon said the roads were much improved by noontime.

“In most cases people were out before the sand trucks got out,” he said.

While Central Maine Power Co. restored power after Sunday’s high wind, Gail Rice, spokeswoman for the utility company said the work was good practice.

“The storm on Sunday did make things busy for us,” Rice said. “We’ve made sure all of the equipment trucks are fueled up and have all of their material.”

The forecast for the rest of the holiday weekend looks clear and cold. Other than Thursday morning’s potential slippery conditions and high wind, the rest of the weekend is expected to be cool and clear, with temperatures reaching the high 20s.

Sunday has a chance of light snow showers, similar to Tuesday, where one to two inches of snow was dropped in areas of central Maine.

Jesse Scardina — 861-9239 [email protected] Twitter: @jessescardina

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