A mess of snow, rain and wind is expected to hit the Waterville and Augusta areas starting Tuesday afternoon and lasting through Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

Concerns about the storm were already generating delays and cancellations in the area on Monday, as public works crews and power companies prepared for the bad weather.

The storm is expected to start as snow around noon on Tuesday and result in snow accumulation ranging from two to three inches in Augusta to up to four inches in Waterville, said Tom Hawley, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Gray.

The snow is expected to change to a mixed bag of sleet and freezing rain and eventually rain during the evening hours Tuesday. The rain will be heavy Tuesday night with about two inches of total rainfall expected.

In addition, wind gusts of up to 40 or 50 miles per hour are expected, potentially causing power outages and other damage. Precipitation will ease by sunrise Wednesday, but occasional showers are expected on Wednesday and snow showers are expected Thursday and Friday.

“The worst of it appears to be (Tuesday) afternoon through Wednesday morning and then the winds will die down Wednesday during the day and the precipitation will die down,” Hawley said. “Even though this storm is expected to move slowly, we’re still going to see off and on precipitation through Friday.”

Temperatures will be in the low to mid-30s most of the week. “It’s going to snow fairly hard for a time Tuesday afternoon, so the evening commute could be tough,” Hawley said. “When it changes to rain, it’s going to be heavy, so it could be difficult driving and could cause street flooding.”

In the western Maine mountains, between six inches and a foot of snow are expected to fall by Friday. Affected areas include Eustis, Rangeley and Carrabassett Valley.

Augusta Public Works Director Lesley Jones said Monday that the city’s crews have already been pretty busy, even though the winter road maintenance season is still young. She said residents have been coming to a sand pile at public works on North Street where residents can fill two five-gallon buckets of sand to get sand to use for traction on their driveways and walkways.

“The sandbox has been a busy place today,” Jones said of residents picking up sand for icy driveways. “It has been a nasty start to winter. It’s only December 8 and we’ve already been out four or five times.”

Jones said previous forecasts indicated the storm would start as rain, but after checking the forecast late Monday afternoon, she noted, “They’re talking two to four inches of snow now. And maybe some ice tonight.”

Jones said she and Jerry Dostie, street supervisor, had talked about having a small crew of four or five plow-truck drivers come in Tuesday morning to ready the city for the storm. She said the final decision would come later Monday, when they look at the latest radar weather reports on the storm.

“We watch (the weather) and as it gets closer, we pay more attention,” Jones said. “We do try to stage (crews in advance) when we can, just so the guys are better prepared. Just like you and I, they need to get up, get their lunch ready, get showered and get ready.”

In Waterville, Public Works Director Mark Turner said city workers spent much of the morning on Monday sanding and salting roads and sidewalks. Crews have also checked storm drains to make sure they are clear in advance of any rain that might cause flooding, he said.

“Basically any precipitation on cold surfaces is going to lead to ice formation. That’s probably the biggest concern for motorists and pedestrians,” he said. “Other than that we’re pretty much ready. We’re not sure exactly what the weather will bring so we’ll see as it comes.”

Workers at Central Maine Power were also preparing for the storm on Monday by checking to make sure utility trucks were fueled and equipped and that personnel had storm-response plans in place, said Gail Rice, a spokeswoman for the company in a press release Monday.

“We’ve put our storm response plan into motion, and we’re watching the forecast closely,” said Rice. “Heavy, wet snow from this storm could build up on roadways, tree limbs, and power lines, particularly in northern parts of our service area. High winds along the coast are also a concern. These conditions could cause power interruptions and difficult travel, so we’re getting crews, equipment and materials in place to respond.”

Kennebec Journal staff writer Keith Edwards contributed to this story.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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