Light rain and mixed precipitation turned to black ice on central Maine roads as the temperature dropped below freezing early Friday morning, prompting dozens of car crashes across the region and signaling the start of the winter driving season.

The Somerset County Communications Center in Skowhegan took 85 reports of accidents and cars off the road, according to the dispatch log. The dispatch center takes emergency calls from much of Kennebec County and all of Somerset County.

The first calls began pouring in just after 3:30 a.m. Friday, with reports of car crashes on U.S. Routes 2 and 201, along with dozens on Interstate 95 from Augusta through Waterville, Fairfield, Clinton and Pittsfield.

There also were reports of accidents in Benton, Winslow, Norridgewock, Smithfield and in-town Augusta, including a reported 11 calls from Henry’s Way, described by an Augusta dispatcher as a small street near the entrance to MaineGeneral Medical Center.

Winslow police responded to at least four accidents early Friday that were caused by black ice. Reports of black ice started at 4:30 a.m., according to Chief Shawn O’Leary.

One accident, at 5:47 a.m. on Augusta Road, resulted in a rolled-over sport utility vehicle. The road was shut down while the car was taken out of a nearby gully, but the driver was not injured.


O’Leary said he was surprised that black ice had started to form on the roads already, but that people should take caution when the temperature drops.

“It’s that time of the year where we all have to be aware,” he said.

Maine State Police were busy early Friday morning patrolling the interstate, where several accidents were reported, none involving serious injuries, Sgt. Peter Michaud said.

“We only had two or three crashes involving personal injuries, but all the personal injury crashes were minor and the occupants were treated and released,” Michaud said. “There was no significant personal injury. Most of the contributing factors were the black ice and speed, a combination of the two.”

Michaud said “the hottest spot” was around mile markers 127 to 130 in Waterville in the area of the Messalonskee Bridge, where both southbound lanes were shut down for a brief period, forcing motorists to creep along in the breakdown lane. He said the Maine Department of Transportation, along with Waterville fire and rescue units, went to the crash scenes.

Some of the calls from the interstate may have been reports of the same accident from several callers, Michaud said. He said he called out six state troopers to work the accidents, which also included roads off the interstate into Franklin County — again, with no significant injuries.


Somerset County Chief Deputy James Ross said there were no injuries in the several crashes reported Friday morning.

“We personally covered maybe half a dozen this morning before the sand trucks got out across the county,” he said. “It looks like I-95 was a skating rink.”

Roads were clear and dry later in the day, with more unsettled weather forecast for the weekend and mixed rain and snow showers on the way. Monday is expected to be sunny with a high temperature of about 30 degrees, while Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, is forecast to be sunny with a high temperature of 36.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367


Comments are no longer available on this story