A blizzard that could dump up to 2 feet of snow and create life-threatening wind chill conditions has roared into Maine , prompting Gov. Paul LePage to declare a state of emergency.

All state offices are closed and the governor urged Maine residents to stay off the roads.

The storm grew more intense as it moved from the mid-Atlantic states into New England, bringing powerful winds, heavy snow and whiteout conditions, the National Weather Service said. Late Monday night, snow had begun falling in southern York County and the system was closing in on Portland and Brunswick in Cumberland County.

The weather service issued a blizzard warning starting Monday at 10 p.m. and lasting through Wednesday at 4 a.m. The forecast called for up to 2 feet of snow in southern and coastal Maine, with winds from the north at 15 to 25 mph and gusts of 50 mph, and temperatures of 8 to 17 degrees.

The weather service also issued a warning Monday that said with temperatures in the teens, the strong winds will “lead to bitterly cold wind chills. If you are stranded outdoors it could be potentially life-threatening.” The wind chill will make it feel like it is 10 to 20 degrees below zero at times.

“Whiteout conditions will make travel extremely dangerous, if not impossible,” the weather service said.


The worst winds are forecast for the southern New England coast.

Hurricane-force winds are expected for portions of the near-shore waters around Cape Cod and the nearby islands, the U.S. Coast Guard said. Seas could exceed 25 feet and winds could gust over 80 mph, making the storm extremely dangerous for mariners, the Coast Guard said. Snow accumulation was estimated at 20 to 30 inches.

“This has all the ingredients to be a historical event,” said Rear Adm. Linda Fagan, commander of the 1st Coast Guard District in Boston.


Portland was one of the many communities to declare a parking ban for the storm, from 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday at 6 a.m. Any vehicle left on city streets during that time will be towed at the owner’s expense.

Portland Fire Chief Jerome LaMoria said residents should plan to stay home during the storm.


“Take this storm seriously. The massive amount of snow and wind will make roads impassable,” LaMoria said. “If you do not need to be out, please don’t be out.”

City officials said plow drivers will focus on keeping main arterials clear, but side streets may become impassable. If there are whiteout conditions, plows may pull over and wait until conditions improve.

Amtrak announced that all Downeaster train service was canceled for Tuesday, as was Metro bus service in Greater Portland, including the Zoom shuttle buses.

All departures scheduled for Tuesday at the Portland International Jetport were canceled. The terminal will be open, but airline ticketing and baggage services will be closed Tuesday.

Jetport Director Paul Bradbury was confident that commercial flights will resume Wednesday, but he wasn’t sure when.

More than 6,700 flights nationwide already had been canceled and more than 2,000 flights delayed as of Monday evening, according to The Associated Press.


Boston’s Logan International Airport said there would be no flights after 7 p.m. Monday, and did not expect to resume flights until late Wednesday.


The Maine Emergency Management Agency was coordinating a conference call Monday between the National Weather Service office in Gray and Caribou and a number of response agencies, county emergency management agencies and the state’s major cities.

“It starts with information,” said Lynette Miller, public information coordinator for MEMA. Having the most up-to-date facts – not hype – is essential, as agencies from the American Red Cross to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention prepare for possible emergencies associated with the storm.

MEMA will open the emergency operations center in Augusta and staff it with representatives from several state agencies “so if local needs develop, everyone is aware of it at the same time and we can more quickly determine the best response,” Miller said.

Coast Guard Ocean Sentry airplanes were flying routes over the Gulf of Maine, issuing marine broadcast warnings to mariners about the impending blizzard.


The York County Emergency Management Agency reached out to the Maine Snowmobile Association to line up snowmobilers who could help transport emergency responders if roads are impassable.

Highway crews were planning how to respond to up to 2 feet of snow in coastal Maine, and utility companies were preparing to deploy workers in case homes or businesses lose power.

Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck urged Mainers to use common sense throughout the storm, emphasizing the importance of properly ventilating generators if the power goes out and not driving until roads are clear.

“Once people leave their homes and hit the road, they are part of the problem,” he said.


Grocery and hardware stores were busy Monday as people stocked up on bottled water, batteries and shovels.


“All day today it’s been crazy,” said James Joyce, manager of Maine Hardware in Portland. “Shovels and ice melt are the two items people seem to be looking for. We’ve been bringing out more stock all day.”

Plummer’s Shop ‘n Save in Buxton was packed with shoppers stocking up on staples like water and sandwich fixings, said Cindy Plummer, whose family owns the store. The gas station owned by the Plummers has had “crazy lines” all day, she said.

Eric Blom, a spokesman for Hannaford, said managers stocked the stores ahead of the storm with popular items like bottled water and bread. He said the company will try to keep stores open during the storm.

“The first-responders and people out taking care of the storm often will come in for supplies and things to eat,” he said. “We do everything we can to stay open.”


At Maine Medical Center, emergency management staff used lessons from previous storms to tweak how the hospital prepared for this storm. The hospital has backup systems to keep the heat and electricity on, but has struggled in the past to make sure there are enough staff and supplies.


To help employees in Greater Portland who want to come to work but whose vehicles couldn’t make the short trip, the hospital has rented three Chevrolet Suburban SUVs with four-wheel-drive to fetch staff members who may be stranded at home, said Josh Frances, the hospital’s director of emergency management.

“If it’s a physician that has to come in for a case that has to happen, and he has a Toyota Prius and can’t get through 2 feet of snow, we can come pick him up,” Frances said.

Hospital employees at outlying warehouses already had moved a truckload of medical and housekeeping supplies, such as clean sheets and pillowcases, to the hospital in case roads become impassible.

In the cafeteria, the kitchen staff will make a limited menu, swapping out labor-intensive meals for dishes that they can make more easily in large quantities, such as spaghetti and sauce, Frances said. Any outpatient clinics that can afford to cancel appointments already have.


Gov. Paul LePage was getting updates from the MEMA, but hadn’t made a decision about whether to close state offices as of Monday at 10 p.m..


The U.S. District Court in both Portland and Bangor will be closed Tuesday. The courts will open late Wednesday, at 10 a.m.

The Maine Legislature canceled work sessions for Tuesday and is closing its offices.

Schoolteachers gave students assignments on the assumption that school would get called off. Portland, Westbrook, Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Yarmouth, South Portland, Brunswick and Scarborough were among several school districts that posted bulletins on their websites Monday alerting students and parents that there would be no classes Tuesday.

Many communities in York and Cumberland counties announced that trash pickup had been suspended Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Kennebec Valley YMCA and the Casco Bay Regional YMCA in Freeport were among the organizations planning to be closed Tuesday.

Portland City Hall will be closed, as will town halls in Old Orchard Beach and Buxton. Colby College in Waterville had canceled all classes, events and athletic practices for Tuesday. The campus has not been shut down since Jan. 9, 1998.


Bowdoin College in Brunswick was one of the few institutions that planned to remain open Tuesday, but professors have the option of canceling their classes if they are unable to get into work, spokesman Scott Hood said.

“We have declared a weather emergency,” Hood said, adding that the emergency means that only workers whose jobs are considered essential are being asked to report.

Becky’s Diner, which is located on Portland’s waterfront, rarely, if ever closes, but the restaurant, which is a popular gathering place for local, state and national politicians, posted a message on its Facebook page Monday night saying that it will not be open Tuesday.

“This storm has us worried about all our awesome employees and their safety,” the message said.

An updated listing of delays and cancellations is available on the Press Herald’s website.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.

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