It was hard to tell Sunday morning whether it was still snowing in central Maine from Saturday or snowing again as the opening salvo of the big one on Monday.

Skowhegan Road Commissioner Greg Dore said his 13-person crew came in early Sunday to do a complete equipment check, then were sent home to get some rest.

What is predicted to be the biggest storm so far this winter was on the way, promising 18-24 inches of heavy, blowing snow with temperatures in the teens and 20s.

Other snowfall forecasts ranged from up to 20 inches in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to up to 11 inches in Boston to up to 7 inches in Hartford, Connecticut, and Providence, Rhode Island.

A winter storm warning was hoisted by the National Weather Service from 2 p.m. Sunday until 9 p.m. Monday from upstate New York to Maine. A blizzard watch was issued for Monday into Monday night, including the Augusta and Waterville areas.

Schools and many businesses across the Northeast announced they would be closed Monday along with the Maine State Legislature offices.

Colby College is shutting down for the first time since 2015 and is asking students to stay inside except for necessary trips, for example, to the dining hall. Essential services, the physical plant, security and dining, will continue.

Nearly 1,300 flights in the U.S. were canceled and another 5,600 were delayed, according to the flight tracking service FlightAware.

Snow is expected to be heaviest overnight with at times 2 inches an hour expected to accumulate, according to Andy Pohl, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray. Then, during the day Monday, the wind is expected to pick up.

“The snow will intensify in the overnight hours and continue until early tomorrow before it pulls off,” Pohl said Sunday. “Tomorrow is when the winds really come up. That could be the interesting part. You could see 30- to 40-mile per hour gusts. We’re still evaluating whether we’ll have to issue a blizzard warning. And the winter storm warning is definitely staying in place.”

An unexpectedly long-lasting snowstorm Saturday added to the challenges of preparing for the potential blizzard Sunday into Monday.

“Because it snowed again yesterday, we took the opportunity to set the banks back,” Dore said Sunday. “But more importantly they spent a good part of this morning going through their equipment making sure the cutting edges are fine and are going to make it through this storm. They went through everything on their trucks because we don’t want any breakdowns.”

Dore said that by 4 a.m. Monday he expects to be getting anywhere between 2 and 4 inches of snow per hour.

“When it’s snowing that hard, we can’t afford to have anything not running,” he said.

Dore said his department is constantly hauling snow off Skowhegan streets to be trucked to three different snow dumps — an acre on Pine Street, 3 or 4 acres behind the town recreation center and 2 acres at the town landfill. Hauling away snowbanks makes room for the new stuff to come, he said.

Side streets are closed during the week as a grader pulls all the snow into the middle of the street, where bucket loaders put it in dump trucks.

“We’re ready for it. I like to go in with a positive attitude,” he said.

In Waterville, Public Works Director Mark Turner said Sunday his crews, with 13 separate plow routes, are trying to keep up with snowbank removal, especially in the downtown and on the Concourse.

“Of course we had a storm yesterday so we ended up dealing with that most of the day yesterday and into the evening,” Turner said. “The roads are in good shape. We’re just waiting for the next one coming tonight and tomorrow.”

Turner said the city of Waterville has its own 5-acre snow dump on land previously owned by the railroad off College Avenue. That site was chosen and permitted by the state Department of Environmental Protection after the snow dump at Head of Falls was discontinued about eight years ago.

Because of the sand component, the snow pile sometimes lasts until July, Turner said.

“We’re a little behind on snow removal because of the frequency of the weather and the storms,” he said. “It is getting to be quite a concern with high snow banks. We’ve been pulling snow from dead ends for a couple weeks. We were caught up until about a week ago when things started getting pretty active again.”

The city of Waterville towed more than 30 cars from The Concourse Friday night for snow removal. Parking tickets were issued on The Concourse early Saturday morning as well.

Lesley Jones, director of public works in Augusta, asked that people be patient as city crews work to remove snow to make things safe for residents and the traveling public.

She said Friday that the plan was to get things cleaned up from the previous storms and make city streets passable, but not keep crews on until the streets were down to bare pavement. Then crews were to be sent home to get some rest before the next big storm came.

In a message posted on the department’s Facebook page, Jones said crews will be kept busy with plowing early this week and may not have much time to haul off snow that has accumulated.

She said the city is looking into hiring local contractors to help with snow removal on side streets that are narrow because of accumulated snow and ice. She said city crews would haul snow Sunday night if they could starting with the downtown area, but that could be affected by the arrival of the incoming storm.

She said this winter has already been tough on the city’s salt supply and personnel and equipment budgets with some storms dragging on for long periods of time and other storms having lots of ice and sleet.

Officials across northern New England stressed caution to thrill-seekers looking to make the most out of the heavy snow, especially after two fatal accidents Saturday at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.

“While the heavy snow from our recent winter storm provides for optimum conditions for winter sports like snowmobiling, they also create hazards and we must be cautious,” New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said.

The storm was welcome news at ski areas, which faced some of the lowest snowfall totals in years last year.

“It’s the complete opposite of last year in terms of snow,” said Rachael Wilkinson, director of marketing at Shawnee Peak in Bridgton, Maine. “It’s night and day and everyone is absolutely thrilled.”

The ski area is expected to get 20 to 26 inches of snow by the end of the day Monday.

The Bangor Police Department took to Facebook on Sunday to offer its own take on official snowstorm advice. The department reminded people to check with their bosses before staying in and taking the day off and to take off their ski-masks before checking in on elderly neighbors.

Those who do go out should bring a blanket, water, working flashlight, small shovel, charged cellphone, snacks and mittens — not gloves.

“Now get to the grocery store and buy things you will never need. Our economy depends on it,” the department quipped.

For a storm to be deemed a blizzard, there must be at least three hours of sustained, 35 mph or higher wind, and a quarter-mile or less of visibility, Pohl said. He said there is technically no requirement for there to be snowfall for a storm to be considered a blizzard. A blizzard can be created by blowing snow that has already fallen.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

dharlow@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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