A winter storm that will move into Maine on Monday evening could test the driving skills of motorists by the time they leave for work Tuesday morning.

Mike Cempa, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said that travel could prove to be treacherous by the time the storm ends Tuesday because it will bring sleet and freezing rain to some areas of the state.

“I think the Tuesday morning commute will be a mess,” Cempa said Sunday evening.

As of Sunday night, the weather service was predicting that Portland will begin to see a mix of rain and snow around 8 p.m. Monday. In other parts of the state, the storm will begin as snow. Portland could get 2-3 inches of snow by the time it turns to a wintry mix.

At some point during the late-night or pre-dawn hours, the precipitation in Portland and throughout the state will change over to sleet and freezing rain.

“The timing of when the warm air aloft will come is what is proving tricky to predict,” Cempa said. The warmer air will change the snow to freezing rain or sleet.

Forecasters also don’t know how long the freezing rain or sleet will last, but Cempa said he is not expecting anything close to ice storm conditions.

“We are not looking at a ton of freezing rain,” he said.

Eventually along the coast, the precipitation will change to all rain Tuesday. Inland areas such as Lewiston and Augusta might see longer periods of freezing rain or sleet Tuesday.

The storm is expected to produce some strong winds as well, with the potential for gusts reaching up to 40 mph.

The weather service is forecasting a mostly sunny day Wednesday with highs reaching the low 40s. Thursday should be partly sunny with a high near 44 degrees.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

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