Maine Gov. Paul LePage said he will close state offices at 1 p.m. on Wednesday in advance of a snow storm that is expected to dump six inches of snow or more on most of Maine.

LePage also urged caution for the many Mainers who will be traveling Wednesday and Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday.

“I urge all of you to drive safely as you commute to your destination,” the governor said in a statement. “Stopping on snow or ice without skidding requires extra time and distance. Drive slowly so you can adjust to changing road conditions. Please remember to keep a safe distance behind other vehicles and give plow trucks plenty of room to operate.”

New England and the entire state are bracing for a nor’easter that weather forecasters say could dump between 2 and 10 inches of snow Wednesday, the heaviest travel day of the year. Wednesday morning, town, city and state road crews were preparing salt and plow trucks, and some organizations had already canceled evening events. The Portland Pirates game Wednesday at Cross Insurance Arena against the Worcester Sharks was postponed until Tuesday because of the expected storm. Several communities, including Gorham, Kennebunkport, Old Orchard and Lewiston have announced parking bans.

James Brown, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said the storm in Portland and coastal areas may start out as rain, but will change over to snow around 1 p.m. It will keep snowing through the afternoon and evening, with the heaviest snowfall occurring around the evening commute.

“Once it settles in, it will snow pretty hard,” Brown said.

A winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service late Tuesday night predicted, “Snow will become heavy at times in the afternoon into the evening, accumulating at rates up to 1 inch per hour. Because of the intensity and accumulation of snow, driving will become treacherous on one of the busiest travel days of the year. Travel is not recommended during these times.”

Brown said coastal areas of the state could get between 2 and 5 inches of snow while inland regions are looking at 6 to 10 inches by the time the storm ends late Wednesday night.

The threat of a major storm on the day before Thanksgiving had several agencies scrambling to make preparations and urging motorists to exercise caution if they have to travel.

Paul Bradbury, director of the Portland International Jetport, encouraged air travelers to check the jetport’s website ( for notifications of flight delays or cancellations.

Bradbury predicted that the morning flights in and out of the jetport would go smoothly, but he warned travelers to expect delays or cancellations in the afternoon and evening hours due to snow accumulations at airports that have connections to Portland, such as those in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

“We will get that morning push out, no problems,” Bradbury said. “Where we will see issues is in the afternoon. It’s unfortunate because it’s the day before Thanksgiving.”

Forecasters expect the storm to affect travel throughout the urban corridor from Washington, D.C., to Boston, saying the major Northeast cities will probably see moderate to heavy rain most of the day, though New York and other places were also gearing up for several inches of snow.

Major airlines dropped their ticket-change fees for people flying in and out of the Northeast, allowing passengers to try to sneak on an earlier flight, though that appeared to be a challenging proposition, since most planes were filled.

By midafternoon Tuesday, just 14 flights within the U.S. were canceled for Wednesday, according to tracking service FlightAware. That’s well below the norm for even a sunny day. United said it was planning to cancel 100 flights Wednesday in and out of Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey – a small fraction of the traffic there. Delta planned to scrub 57 flights.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports, said it was lining up extra staff and snow removal equipment in the event of a heavy snowfall. Crews were prepared to work in 12-hour shifts if necessary, officials said. Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, issued a statement Tuesday evening on behalf of Col. Robert Williams, chief of the Maine State Police, urging motorists to plan ahead and to slow down.

Williams said four people were killed during the four-day Thanksgiving weekend last year, and five people lost their lives in traffic accidents during the 2012 Thanksgiving holiday weekend. He said all nine deaths were attributed to driving too fast for road conditions.

Erin Courtney, a spokeswoman for the Maine Turnpike Authority, said turnpike maintenance crews are prepared for the storm. “It’s just a snowstorm on an unfortunate day with a lot of people traveling,” she said.

There is a good chance that turnpike speeds will be reduced to 45 mph Wednesday afternoon and evening, she said.

In Maine’s largest city, officials sent out a reminder to residents on steps they should take to prepare. City spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said residents who are going out of town and leaving their cars behind should park them off the street to allow for snow removal.

If a parking ban goes into effect, cars left on a city street will be towed. Portland police said a parking ban probably won’t be announced until Wednesday.

Gorham didn’t wait to announce a parking ban, saying it would be in effect from 6 p.m. Wednesday until 6 a.m. Thursday.


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