Islands off the midcoast of Maine got hammered with heavy snow Saturday while the rest of the state braced for a sharp, but mercifully brief, shot of bitter cold.

Snow and high winds led to dozens of crashes around the state, and a Kennebunk police officer was injured Saturday afternoon as he was closing a road that had become dangerous because of snow blowing across it. Police said the officer’s cruiser was hit on the driver’s side by a pickup truck.

The officer was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland with injuries that were not life-threatening, police said.

Islands in Penobscot Bay got hit the hardest with snowfall Saturday. Matinicus got 25 inches, Vinalhaven received 22, North Haven got 18 inches and 13 inches fell on Isle au Haut before the snowfall wound down early Saturday night.

The weather was blamed for 15 crashes Saturday on Interstate 95 between Waterville and Newport, and the highway was shut down for a time in Waterville after a crash there, said Sgt. Peter B. Michaud of the Maine State Police.

After a dozen cars slid off the highway, Michaud said, it was closed until the Maine Department of Transportation could treat the roadway. Then it was reduced to one lane southbound while troopers investigated the crashes and wreckers pulled cars off the side of the highway.

One driver was taken to a hospital after his car went off the road, rolled over several times and hit some trees, Michaud said. In another crash, a juvenile was taken to the hospital, but Michaud didn’t have further information on those crashes or the extent of the injuries.

Meteorologist Chris Kimble at the National Weather Service office in Gray said bitterly cold air will descend on the state early Sunday and could match a record cold high for Portland of 9 degrees, set in 1979. That will come after an overnight low early Sunday of 5 to 10 degrees below zero in southern Maine and 20 below in northern Maine.

The cold, along with strong winds, prompted a wind chill warning for northern Maine on Sunday, meaning that wind chills of 30 below zero or colder are expected. A wind chill advisory is in place for early Sunday in southern Maine, indicating that wind chills of 20 below or colder are anticipated, Kimble said.

Sharp cold will remain in place Sunday night and Monday morning, Kimble said, but the winds will ease off so it won’t feel quite so cold.

On Monday, highs will reach the 20s, and a storm is forecast for Monday night, Kimble said. It will start off as snow, sleet or rain, but warmer air will move in and the precipitation will change over to all rain Tuesday, with highs in the 40s, Kimble said.

Colder air will return for most of the rest of the week, he said, with highs around freezing, and the next chance for precipitation is Saturday. Kimble said forecasters aren’t sure if it will be rain or snow, although highs are forecast for the lower 40s in southern Maine.


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