A late-winter nor’easter is on track to descend on the region Tuesday, with forecasts calling for a foot or more of snow across central Maine that will edge snowfall totals this season above already higher-than-average amounts.

Tom Hawley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said Monday that the storm will likely move into central Maine sometime between 10 a.m. and noon Tuesday morning and said it will get heavy quickly. Forecasts call for 12 to 18 inches of snow across the area.

Hawley said Waterville had logged a total of 79 inches of snow so far this winter, and Augusta had clocked in at 79.1 inches. He said the normal seasonal snowfall for the Waterville area is 64.3 inches, putting this winter’s snowfall at least 20 percent above average even as Tuesday’s storm promises to add more.

Meanwhile, Waterville Public Works Director Mark Turner said it was business as usual as they prepared for the impending storm, even if his crew had started to think the spring meltdown was around the corner.

“We had kind of put things away here,” Turner said, but were now preparing to tackle the nor’easter this week. He said they were “all set to go” with ample supplies, equipment that was in good shape, and a rested crew ready to go.

In advance of the storm, a number of organizations on Monday announced they were canceling or postponing events and meetings. Among them: the Regional School Unit 9 board of directors canceled its meeting Tuesday night; Colby College canceled a Tuesday night panel on media in the age of President Donald Trump; and Gardiner’s Marijuana Task Force, the Augusta Planning Board and Manchester selectmen’s meeting and budget workshop also canceled.

As of Monday afternoon, central Maine school districts had not yet announced any closings or early releases, but Hawley said it was likely schools would not open Tuesday and possibly not on Wednesday, either.

Hawley said that while he expects 12 to 18 inches total, he said it was possible some areas could see up to 20 or 22 inches.

“It’s going to come down very heavy,” he said. “Within an hour of the start it will snow hard, and it will snow hard into the evening hours.”

He said the storm should wind down by early Wednesday morning, with most snowfall over by 8 a.m. that day. He stressed that the snow would come down heavy, saying that by 2 p.m. Tuesday there could already be between 1 and 3 inches of snow on the ground.

The heaviest snowfall will probably occur between 4 and 9 p.m., Hawley said, probably at a rate of 3 inches per hour. During this time there will also be strong wind gusts between 20 and 25 mph that could increase up to 30 or 40 mph in the evening.

Hawley said the Midcoast area could see more power outages, as the snow has the potential to change to sleet and become stickier.

As for central Maine, Hawley said he didn’t expect the snow to become sticky.

“It’s certainly going to start out dry and blowing around, but late at night there could be a bit of change in the consistency of the snow,” he said, but added he wasn’t concerned with the snow “sticking to everything.”

The storm comes on the heels of bitter cold weather in recent days, including record low temperatures in the single digits or below zero in many towns and cities across the state.

Turner, of Waterville public works, noted that this year’s slate of storms was larger than last year, when there were unseasonably mild temperatures much of the time. He said from Nov. 29 until now, his department had responded to 26 winter-related incidents, compared to 21 last year. He said his department has gone through almost 5,000 yards of sand and about 2,800 tons of salt so far.

He said most winter-related operations had exceeded their budgeted amounts. These include salt and sand, but also equipment repair and overtime costs. Most of the larger storms have come overnight or on weekends or holidays, which ate into the overtime account.

“The winter operations account is going to be overspent in many categories this year,” Turner said.

Ted Talbot, spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation, said DOT officials carve out a 20-week span beginning in mid-November, in which they are equipping vehicles, bringing in supplies as needed and adjusting schedules.

“The truth is we’ve been ready — that’s part of what you need to do to be consistent in snow fighting,” Talbot said.

Talbot said they have prepared for the storm by making sure all the mechanisms of the trucks are working and making sure supplies are “plentiful and accessible” to the trucks. Talbot said the benefit to a snowstorm compared to an ice event is that snowstorms tend to require less materials to combat.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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