Whether it’s 1 foot of snow or 2, Mainers are going to get walloped this weekend.

Even if the storm’s track shifts, 12 inches looks to be the minimum amount of snowfall by the time it clears out late Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. The upper end, mostly likely to hit the middle third of the state from the southwest to the northeast, could be twice that much. It will be the biggest storm of the 2018-19 winter season by far.

The greatest uncertainty seems to be along the coast, where snow could turn to sleet at some point and bring down precipitation totals. The western mountains north through the Allagash region also could see slightly lower amounts.

Areas south of Maine, including Greater Boston, will see less snow, too, because it will change to sleet and freezing rain.

“We have a winter storm warning for Saturday evening and through the day Sunday,” said James Brown, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Gray. “I think it’s pretty locked in at this point. The models have been consistent.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration staffs its National Weather Service offices 24 hours a day, but employees are not being paid during the government shutdown.

Municipal public works departments across the state were prepping Friday for the storm, as were Maine Department of Transportation and Maine Turnpike officials. Many municipalities already had issued parking bans, and some could last through Monday, which is a holiday for most employers, including all public schools. Grocery stores were busy.

The Portland International Jetport has warned travelers that there could be delays or cancellations on Sunday and they should check before arriving.

Some churches already canceled their Sunday services.

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.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills encouraged residents to stay safe and to check on their neighbors if possible.

“I encourage Mainers to stay off the roads as much as possible this weekend to help avoid accidents and allow our state and municipal road crews to work safely,” she said in a statement. “I also hope that families reach out to any of their neighbors in need. Mainers take care of one another and I have every confidence we will continue to do so through these winter months.”

The storm will track from the south and is expected to reach York County by 8 p.m. Saturday and Portland by 10 p.m. The snow could fall at a rate of 1 to 3 inches an hour in the Greater Portland area during the mid-to-late morning hours Sunday, creating the potential for whiteout conditions. Some areas could see gusty winds, too, creating the possibility of power outages.

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.

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

Once the snow clears out late Sunday, a frigid air mass will move in, leading to some freezing on roads.

More weather information and safety tips are available online at: www.maineprepares.com

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Sam Shepherd contributed to this story.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: PPHEricRussell


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