Mainers in many parts of the state saw their first significant snowfall of the season Friday.

The storm prompted dozens of districts to close schools, cities to issue parking bans and officials to warn people to be prepared for winter travel conditions.

By the time the bulk of the storm was over in the afternoon and early evening, 6.1 inches had fallen at the Portland International Jetport, according to the National Weather Service office in Gray. Windham counted 6½ inches, and Carrabassett Valley and Fryeburg both received 7 inches. Five inches fell in Berwick, in line with lower totals elsewhere in York County.

But the weather service said the backside of the storm was still producing precipitation Friday night in some parts of Maine and New Hampshire. Shortly before 9 p.m., there were reports of light snow in Augusta, Waterville, Bangor and Caribou.

The highest snow totals ran along the Maine Turnpike from Augusta through Lewiston and over to Fryeburg, said meteorologist Margaret Curtis of the weather service. Totals were lower along the immediate coastline, where warmer temperatures resulted in some sleet mixing in, and snow that was not as light and fluffy.

Those conditions also made traveling in Portland and along the southern coast more difficult. Several car crashes were reported on the Maine Turnpike between York and South Portland in the predawn hours, according to the Maine Turnpike Authority.

“Plow crews are out and roads are being steadily cleared but we are seeing a few slide-offs and accidents,” Portland police tweeted Friday morning.

Mike Spencer clears the snow from the walkway in front of his home on Riverside Street in Lewiston on Friday. Speaking about his inflatable turkey, Spencer said, “I put him up every Thanksgiving.”

Drivers in central Maine had already gotten used to navigating roads in bad weather once again since they’ve had plenty of practice from recent storms. Farmington Deputy Police Chief Shane Cote said Friday’s snowstorm, which dropped about 4 inches on the town, had created fewer problems than the 7 inches that fell Tuesday.

“Tuesday was miserable,” he said. “Today it’s been fairly smooth, I will say.”

In Somerset County, 22 accident reports came in Friday, compared with 99 on Tuesday, according to Mike Smith, director of the Somerset County Emergency Management Agency. Smith said school and municipal closures had people staying off the roads, reducing call totals.

“The majority of (calls that) have come in is accidents and medical calls, but those are standard,” Smith said. “No reports of trees and wires down yet. We’re in pretty good shape.”

During the early portion of Friday’s storm, the speed limit on the Maine Turnpike was reduced to 45 mph along its entire length – from Kittery to Augusta – although normal posted speed limits were restored in the southern part of the highway at 1 p.m. and everywhere else by late afternoon.

Ted Talbot, spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation, said crews had already been out for hours clearing roads before the morning commute.

“This is the type of snow that is very plowable and movable,” he said. “Visibility isn’t much of an issue.”

Dozens of schools were closed for the first snow day of the year, while others in southern areas delayed start times. The University of Maine, University of Southern Maine and Southern Maine Community College also canceled classes Friday.

The Capital Judicial Center was closed in Augusta, along with the University of Maine at Augusta and Augusta city schools. Waterville schools and Regional School Units 2, 9, 12 and 54 also were closed.

In contrast to all the closings, the Sugarloaf ski resort announced that it was open for the first time this season, with 14 trails and 95 acres available for skiers.

The storm comes more than a month before the official start of winter and nearly a week before Thanksgiving, but it’s not unusual for Maine to get snow at this time of year, according to the weather service.

The average date of first snow is not an official statistic, but the weather service office in Gray has been keeping track informally and counts Nov. 25 as the average date for southern Maine.

On Tuesday, up to 8 inches of snow was reported in parts of Franklin, Oxford and Somerset counties. Some pockets of northern and western Maine saw measurable snow late last month, but much of the state has been spared.

Portland has seen at least 20 inches before December many times but not since 1997. The average snowfall for all of November in Portland is 3.3 inches, according to the weather service.

Saturday’s weather looks pleasant with temperatures warming into the low 40s, and then into the 30s on Sunday. The next chance of precipitation comes Monday, when a weak cold front moving through may set off some snow showers, Curtis said.

Mainers planning to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday have a lot to be thankful for: There are no big storms in sight for the upcoming week, according to Curtis.

Staff Writers Sam Shepherd of the Kennebec Journal and Meredith Goad of the Press Herald contributed to this report.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: grahamgillian

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: