Driving conditions in Maine could be hazardous during the Monday morning commute after temperatures were forecast to plummet overnight, causing roads to freeze over.

“There’s going to be quite a lot of ice out there,” Margaret Curtis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said late Sunday afternoon. “We are expecting everything to freeze up overnight.”

Curtis said the warm weather Sunday afternoon lasted only a few hours, so the ground was still cold. That means refreezing could only take an hour or two in some areas, especially with temperatures expected to fall to about 10 degrees Fahrenheit overnight. It was 29 degrees in downtown Portland shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday.

“The good news is we don’t have any new precipitation coming in,” Curtis said.

Ted Talbot, spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation, said Sunday night that crews will be pretreating the major highways and roads in the overnight hours in anticipation of ice buildups. Talbot said they use road salt or a mixture of salt and brine to try to keep ice to a minimum, and crews will be looking out for trouble spots so they can treat them as quickly as possible.

Portland public works crews treated city streets all day Sunday and were expected to continue to do so overnight to keep the roads as safe as possible, said City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Grondin.

In Lebanon, the fire department responded to two accidents Sunday afternoon caused by icy conditions, one on Center Road for a pickup truck that had slid off the road, and a similar accident on Shapleigh Road, according to Lebanon Fire and EMS. There were no major injuries in either accident.

On Sunday morning, some flights were canceled or delayed at the Portland International Jetport and about 2,600 customers lost power across the state as a messy storm switched from snow to freezing rain and to rain.

The storm triggered a rash of fender benders and coated sidewalks and driveways with ice, but no serious injuries were reported.

The cancellations and delays at the jetport were because of icing in the early morning, the communications center reported. Travelers were advised to check their flights’ status before setting out.

Most of the power outages were in Androscoggin County, where icy conditions knocked out power to about 1,800 Central Maine Power customers. As of 10:20 p.m. Sunday, only 67 CMP customers were without electricity, most of them in Sagadahoc County.

Pedestrians faced a skating rink in downtown Portland. Some people were seen on their hands and knees in Monument Square as they tried to negotiate the ice on sidewalks, while others inched their way along or opted to tromp through the snow to avoid falling.

Much of the ice quickly melted, though, as temperatures rose to nearly 50 degrees Sunday afternoon.

The weekend weather system provided some interesting temperatures around the state, noted Andy Pohl, another meteorologist at the weather service office in Gray. At 10:30 a.m. it was 47 degrees in Bar Harbor and 30 degrees in Bangor.

The storm spread about 4 to 6 inches or more of snow around the state on Saturday. Bridgton got the most, at 8 inches, while Portland got 5 inches before the precipitation switched to rain.

Monday should be dry and cold, with highs in the low 20s, the weather service said.


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