After facing a blast of snow and sleet Sunday, Mainers were confronted with another winter challenge as the workweek started – weather so bitterly cold that meteorologists warned people to cover up bare skin or face the prospect of frostbite.

The National Weather Service office in Gray issued a wind chill advisory Monday afternoon, saying that strong northwest winds could produce “dangerous wind chills across the region,” making it feel like 20 to 35 degrees below zero in some places.

Meteorologist Derek Schroeter said the advisory will remain in effect through 9 a.m. Tuesday. He said morning commuters should wear a hat and gloves because the extreme cold could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 15 to 30 minutes.

In Portland, the temperature had dropped to 3 degrees Monday night, but Schroeter said it would continue to fall overnight – possibly to as low as 4 degrees below zero. The wind chill will make it feel like 20 below zero in Portland by dawn.

Schroeter said it won’t start to warm up until around noon Tuesday, when high temperatures are expected to rise into the mid-20s, with bright sunshine.

Aroostook County was hit hard by the weekend storm, with towns like Van Buren reporting 23½ inches of snow, Fort Kent 22 inches and Madawaska 21½ inches, according to the weather service. Newry and Bethel in western Maine received 18 and 16 inches, respectively. And in Franklin County, Carrabassett Valley had 20 inches, Kingfield 15 inches and Farmington 14 inches. In Kennebec County, Waterville received only about 6 inches, while Palmyra, in Somerset County, got 8½ inches.

The snowfall totals for southern and coastal Maine were far less than anticipated. Portland got 5.7 inches, Brunswick 6½ inches, and Biddeford 6 inches.

Because the snow was powdery, the weekend storm did not result in a lot of power outages.

Catharine Hartnett, spokeswoman for Central Maine Power, said Monday that about 10 customers reported power outages in Farmington during the storm, but none were reported in the Skowhegan and Waterville areas.

In all of CMP’s coverage area, about 600 customers reported outages, and those were mostly caused by vehicles hitting utility poles in the southern part of the state, according to Hartnett.

As temperatures plummeted Monday, people across Maine spent part of their day clearing snow from driveways and sidewalks.

Sean Goodwin, director of the Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency, said the only lingering issue for public works crews is the cold, but it would be easier than cleaning up slush on a 30-degree day.

“Everybody was lucky because there were very few power outages,” he said. “From what I can see, the road crews did a very good job.”

In Gardiner, Public Works Director Tony LaPlante said his crews were working to scrape what ice and snow they could from city streets. The snow was easy to clear, he said, but the sleet was compacted into the roads by light amounts of traffic Sunday.

His crews wrapped up morning work, which included salting and sanding, around 11 a.m. He said crews would return to work Monday night to remove the 10 inches of snow from the city’s downtown. He said all roads would be clear within a couple of days.

“The main routes are in good shape because they get a higher level of treatment,” LaPlante said.

The outlook for the rest of the week has one surprise. Schroeter, the weather service meteorologist, said that Thursday’s forecast calls for a high temperature of 45 degrees and rain in Portland. He said other coastal areas also are looking at rain, but the prediction for inland areas is less certain.

Staff Writers Sam Shepherd of the Kennebec Journal and Amy Calder of the Morning Sentinel contributed to this report.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]


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