Local businesses and public works departments are preparing for a massive snowstorm that is poised to hit Maine this weekend.

The National Weather Service is estimating 12 to 20 inches of accumulation from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon. Some precipitation might linger into early Monday, when the temperature is expected to drop below zero.

The weather service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for 7 p.m. Saturday until 1 a.m. Monday.

Northern areas of the state also will be under a wind chill advisory. The weather service warned of wind chills as low as 30 below zero. Eastern and western parts of the state probably will get lesser but still sizable snow totals, ranging from about 7 to 15 inches.

The storm will be accompanied by bitter cold through the weekend. Through Saturday and Sunday, the high in Augusta is expected to be 12 degrees; and the low, 3 degrees. When snow clears out on Monday, the lows is forecast to be 1 below zero.

In its preparation, Central Maine Power will be dispatching 100 line crews in its coverage area, most spread along the Interstate 95 corridor, and is calling in support from Canada. CMP spokeswoman Catharine Hartnett said that about 100 tree crews also will be dispatched around the state.

She said the snow probably will be light and fluffy, so its weight will pose little danger to tree branches; but high wind could bring limbs down. In Waterville, gusts could reach 25 mph Sunday.

“(The snow) is looking pretty dry and light,” Hartnett said. “(Any damage) could be more about the wind.”

She noted that crews might have difficulty moving around to more-affected areas of the state because of travel conditions, but officials will be planning crew movement in real time throughout the weekend.

In an email to interested parties, Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency Director Sean Goodwin said the cold weather will eliminate the danger of the Kennebec River flooding during the storm.

“The ice is not moving, nor are we going to have any weather that will cause movement,” he said.

Goodwin said the Coast Guard is on standby for any requests from Kennebec County.

John Johnson, Jay’s public works director, said his crews have been tuning up plows, and replenishing salt and sand piles ahead of the storm. He said cleanup could be affected by low visibility caused by high wind and subsequent snow drifts.

“I’ve lined up a couple spare hands if this should go a longer duration,” Johnson said. “It’s just another storm to us.”

Mike Smith, director of Somerset County’s Emergency Management Agency, said the long weekend probably would keep people off the road, making cleanup easier and reducing traffic accidents. He said the Somerset County dispatch center will be staffed normally for the storm.

The long weekend is presenting a problem, however, for Goggin’s IGA in Randolph, where owner Jack Goggin said goods such as bread, batteries and coffee brandy are flying off the shelves. He said Martin Luther King Jr. Day is halting deliveries on Monday, which will leave some shelves sparse until later in the week.

“The bread guys still deliver (Saturday), but it won’t be enough,” he said. “Nobody is really delivering Monday. It’s going to be a little while (before we get stocked up).”

Goggin said the bread aisle was devoid of customers Friday, but Saturday would be more hectic.

In Monmouth, residents have complained of lackluster plowing, even asking the town to dissolve the town’s Public Works Department. After receiving complaints, selectmen asked the department to catalogue problem areas and plan for this weekend’s storm.

Mike McGee, project manager for McGee Construction, said his fleet of drivers spent the week preparing for the coming storm. He said more than 60 drivers could be out on the roads to handle the company’s accounts, which include roads in Farmingdale and Pittston, as well as some commercial plowing.

“It happens to be a holiday, so that will help our cleanup,” McGee said. “Hopefully, it won’t be as eventful as the forecast says.”

Towns are also posting notice of parking bans starting on Saturday. In Gardiner, parking is banned on any street from 7 a.m. Sunday until 7 a.m. Monday.

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

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