Commutes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day were hampered by Sunday’s storm as plows and residents spent the morning digging out. A midday Sunday change from snow to sleet kept accumulations from the storm to the lower end of expected ranges, but complicated cleanup for public works crews.

Spotters for the National Weather Service in Gray reported 9-12.5 inches of snow in areas of Kennebec County on Monday morning, while in Waterville in northern Kennebec County, snowfall was only about 6 inches, though it had been predicted to be anywhere up to 18. Farmington, in Franklin County, got 14 inches while Palmyra, in Somerset County, got 8.5 inches, according to William Watson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.

Preliminary estimates for the storm had been much higher, forecasting up to 20 inches.

“We had the initial burst of powdery-type snow overnight and we had some warmer air aloft and that changed everything over to a combination of sleet or freezing rain — it looked like it was mostly sleet,” Watson said late Monday morning.

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

Catharine Hartnett, spokeswoman for Central Maine Power Co., said Monday that about 10 customers reported power outages in Farmington during the storm, but none reported outages in the Skowhegan and Waterville areas. Fortunately, the snow was light and dry as opposed to wet and heavy, and sleet and ice did not stick, she said.

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.

Meanwhile, Waterville police reported a quiet day Sunday. A police dispatcher reported no vehicle accidents. The Franklin and Somerset County sheriff departments’ call volumes were not unusual during the storm and neither reported storm-related problems such as vehicle accidents.

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

“With the temperatures, the salt was working minimally,” LaPlante said.

His crews wrapped up morning work, which included salting and sanding, around 11 a.m. on Monday. 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.

At 10:30 a.m. Monday, western and northwestern areas of the state were under wind chill advisories, and areas of southern and central Maine were under a hazardous weather outlook due to wind chill. Coastal parts of southern Maine were under a flood advisory until 1 p.m., citing minor flooding and splash-over. Northern Maine observed a winter storm warning until 1 p.m.

Wind chills were as low as 14-below-zero degrees in Augusta on Monday, where the high temperatures only reached 8 degrees and the low was 2-below-zero degrees. The bitter cold will remain through Tuesday, when highs will be about 20, but wind chills could be as low as 20-below-zero degrees.

From Monday into Tuesday, the Watervlle area can expect scattered snow showers with flurries in the early evening, Watson said.

It will continue to be cold with wind chill values in the negative digits, he said. Monday night will be quieter, mostly cloudy, with clearing after midnight, and the temperatures will remain below zero, according to Watson. With the wind chill, temperatures are expected to be in the minus 20 degree range. Tuesday will be sunny, cold, windy and a little warmer — close to 20 degrees, Watson said, but “The wind chill values will be just as cold if not colder tomorrow.”

Sean Goodwin, Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency’s director, said the only lingering issues 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.”

A large melt may be on the way as rain and above-freezing temperatures are likely on Wednesday and Thursday. The weather service says the Wednesday high in Augusta will be 34 degrees, with snow and rain showers likely. The temperature will rise to 41 degrees on Thursday with a 90 percent chance of rain.

Despite rising temperatures and rain in the future, weather service meteorologist William Watson said flooding is not likely along the Kennebec River. He said the service’s last water level reading showed the river was 5 feet below “action level,” which is 5- to 7-feet lower than the minor flood level.

“I don’t think we’re really looking at (flooding) at this point,” Watson said. “It would take a good bit to get (water levels) up.”

Laplante said the rain and warmer temperatures later in the week could give road crews a headache as they try to deal with wet, cold roads, but increasing temperatures would eventually assist in the cleanup.

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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