A blast of snow made for messy morning commutes across central Maine while several Augusta area school districts canceled school Monday, the first full day of spring.

The Augusta school district canceled classes, as did Gardiner-based School Administrative District 11 and Regional School Unit 2, which includes Hall-Dale, Monmouth and Richmond, and Maranacook area schools in RSU 38. Other districts in northern Kennebec County, such as Waterville-based AOS 92 and Oakland-based Regional School Unit 18, went ahead with school.

Speed limits were reduced to 45 mph for the length of the Maine Turnpike during the morning’s heavy snow. Augusta police reported slippery conditions making driving difficult, especially on the city’s many hills. Sgt. Christian Behr, in a video posted on the police department’s Facebook page, warned against driving down steep hills, because motorists may not be able to stop or could slide off the road.

Walking on Chestnut Street, Behr, in one video on the site posted Monday morning, describes how slick the slush and snow makes some local roads and then slips and falls to the ground.

“We’re getting slush that comes down sometimes that’s really really slick,” Behr said before going down.

Tom Hawley of the National Weather Service in Gray said rapidly falling snow created limited visibility. While there were no official snowfall totals for Kennebec County, most central Maine communities likely had 3-6 inches after the snow tapered off in the afternoon with heavier amounts closer to the coast.

Behr said there were two accidents reported in Augusta Monday morning with no injuries reported in either. A tractor-trailer was also reported stuck on State Street, unable to get up Gas House Hill around 9 a.m., but the truck was gone when police arrived.

Emergency dispatch records showed there were two motor vehicle accidents Monday morning on Route 17 in Manchester, one in Rome on Route 27 and one in Pittston on Route 194.

Kennebec County Interim Sheriff Ryan Reardon said as of noon Monday that the sheriff’s office had responded to eight accidents, none of which required any of the drivers or occupants to be hospitalized.

Roads in Somerset County were slippery enough to contribute to accidents that sent several people to the hospital, police said.

In all, Cpl. Ritchie Putnam of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department said there were 12 separate motor vehicle crashes beginning just after 7:30 a.m. Monday. Seven people were taken to the hospital, mostly for observation, he said. In one crash on Old Point Avenue in Madison, one person may have suffered a dislocated shoulder, Putnam said.

“It was pretty busy during the morning commute,” Putnam said early Monday afternoon. “Then things leveled off and we haven’t had any since.”

In another accident on New Portland Road in Anson, the car was destroyed, but the driver did not have to go to the hospital, he said. There were other reported accidents in Palmyra, Hartland, Skowhegan and St. Albans.

There were dozens of other accidents in the Waterville area between about 7 and 9 a.m., but none with serious injury.

Two vehicles went off the road in Monmouth Monday morning in separate single-vehicle accidents. Pauline Fenton, 70, of Winthrop, lost control of her car and went off U.S. Route 202 near the intersection with Old Lewiston Road in a 6:35 a.m. accident, according to Officer Dana Wessling. She was taken to the hospital with what appeared to be minor injuries, Wessling said.

One driver went off Norris Hill Road in Monmouth around 9 a.m. and struck a mailbox, but the vehicle was not damaged, nor was the driver injured, according to Wessling.

Augusta Public Works had 20 plows and other snow removal equipment out Monday, treating roads with ice and salt. Lesley Jones, public works director, said they had a crew come in at 4 a.m., right about the time snow started falling.

“We’re plowing everything,” Jones said around 11 a.m. “It was very slippery first thing this morning. It has been much improved over the last couple of hours. It’s cleaning up good.”

Jones asked motorists to slow down and leave extra between their vehicles and others on the road.

Behr said Monday morning that one motorist crashed into a sign because of the slippery conditions, but was uninjured.

“We’ve had to kind of stop people from coming down the hill here,” Behr said from Chestnut Street. “If you’re driving around today, I don’t recommend coming down any steep hills at all. And use caution, drive extra slow, and if you don’t really think you should go down a hill like this, don’t.”

Staff writer Doug Harlow contributed to this report.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj


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