Two slow-moving weather systems that pummeled the state for two days finally departed Tuesday afternoon, leaving Greater Portland, York County and parts of western Maine with more than a foot of snow.

Snowfall totals were higher than expected and prompted state government to shut down Tuesday. Organizers of the popular fireworks display and bonfire on Old Orchard Beach canceled the annual celebration, and Portland enacted a parking ban.

The first snowstorm began late Sunday night, and while forecasters anticipated a break in the back-to-back storms Monday, a second weather system bulldozed its way into Maine shortly after the first had ended. The result was what seemed like a single storm that didn’t let up for about 36 hours.

By the time it all stopped, the Portland International Jetport was reporting 12.9 inches of snow. The hardest hit areas included most of York County, Greater Portland and parts of western Maine.

Snowfall totals provided by the National Weather Service in Gray on Tuesday night showed that Gorham got 14.2 inches, South Portland, 13.5 inches; Cumberland, 12.8; Falmouth, 12.3, Freeport, 12: Waterboro, 16: Goodwins Mills, 14.8; Hollis, 13.4; Cornish, 11.8;, Kennebunk, 11.7; Auburn, 13.5, and Bethel reported 13.5 inches.

“The totals exceeded our expectations,” said Derek Schroeter, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.

Schroeter said the Monday-Tuesday storm developed into a collision of two fronts.

“It was a battle between cold air moving in from the north and warm air in the south, with the cold air winning out,” he said.

The weather for Wednesday, New Year’s Day, was expected to be pretty good. In Portland, the forecast was for partly sunny skies with highs in the upper 30s.

Tuesday began with a messy commute.

A mix of rain and snow fell in Portland and along the York County coast, creating slushy conditions that complicated travel and snow cleanup.

Devon Kraft of Peaks Island digs out her car on Tuesday morning on Hancock Street in Portland. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

The storm led to the closure of state offices and prompted officials to warn drivers to stay off the roads.

Portland City Hall opened two hours late Tuesday. York County administrative offices were closed because of snow and potentially icy conditions, and will reopen at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Portland declared a citywide parking ban from 10 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday, but said vehicles wouldn’t be towed from the downtown area until 2 a.m. because of New Year’s Eve festivities.

The weather prompted organizers of the Last Blast Beach Party in Old Orchard Beach to cancel the event, which features a bonfire and fireworks on the beach.

“Due to the terrible weather forecast we have to cancel the fireworks and the bonfire for New Year’s Eve,” the organizers wrote in a post on OOB365’s Facebook page. “This was a difficult decision to make, but we wanted to do it early enough to give everyone time to make alternate plans.”

 

Eivind Rynning of Portland trudges along an unplowed sidewalk on Thames Street during his morning walk Tuesday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Officials from the Maine Emergency Management Agency were keeping a close eye on the the storm and were in contact with utility companies and the National Weather Service, according to acting director Peter Rogers.

Central Maine Power was reporting 2,600 outages in Brunswick and Harpswell at 9:30 a.m., but as of 6 p.m. total outages had dwindled to just two customers in Oxford County.

The speed limit on the Maine Turnpike was reduced to 45 mph Tuesday morning, but no significant crashes were reported. Speed limits were restored to normal around 3:30 p.m.

Kyle Moore, a valet for Unified Parking Partners, digs out cars on Hancock Street in Portland on Tuesday morning. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

 

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