AUGUSTA — The powerful nor’easter barreling up the East Coast is now expected to bring a foot of snow or more this weekend to some areas in central Maine, according to The National Weather Service in Grey.

The weather service updated predicted snowfall totals on Friday morning to show nearly double the amount of snow for the central Maine region than originally predicted.

The weather service’s updated snowfall amounts, which came as the storm’s projected track turned in a more westerly direction, showed the Augusta and Waterville areas on the cusp of receiving 18 to 20 inches of snow on the high end, and 8 to 11 inches on the low end. For the Skowhegan area, predicted snowfall amounts fall between 8 and 15 inches.

The heavy snowfall, combined with strong wind gusts, was expected to create whiteout conditions at times, prompting officials to advise people to stay home if possible and not travel during the storm.

Snow is predicted to start falling in central Maine at about mid-morning and its peak is expected to bring rapid accumulations as fluffy snow falls at a rate of 1-3 inches per hour. The snowfall is expected to stop early Sunday morning, according to Randy Pohl a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Grey.

Pohl said the coast, in areas of Portland up to Rockland, were upgraded from a winter storm watch to a blizzard warning and doesn’t expect central Maine to fall into this threshold. But Pohl said areas of central Maine could, at times, experience near-blizzard conditions. The last time a blizzard warning has been issued to central and southern Maine was in March 2018. To be considered a blizzard, wind speeds have to be above 35 mph in addition to low-visibility for at least three consecutive hours.

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“We are advising people to stay home, if they can, and if they do have to go out, to be prepared for winter driving conditions, mainly in coastal areas where it will be near-blizzard conditions,” Pohl said. “The winds will be stronger (at the coast) and visibility, at times, will be less than a quarter mile. Saturday afternoon to evening will be difficult, if not impossible at times.”

Central Maine Power Co. said in a news release Friday its team is preparing for the possibility of potential power outages on Saturday and coordinated with the Maine Emergency Management Agency, County Emergency Management agencies and local municipalities to prepare ahead of Saturday.

Because of temperatures generally predicted to be in the single digits and teens, the precipitation is likely to be a dry snow that “doesn’t typically damage infrastructure,” according to the power company. CMP officials are more worried about the high wind gusts that could potentially take out power lines.

Wind gusts in the Augusta- and Waterville-area will range from 35 mph to 50 mph, in some areas closer to the coast and in Skowhegan, wind will be around 30 to 35 mph.

“We have been watching this storm all week and making preparations across our service area,” Adam Desrosiers, CMP’s vice president of electric operations, said in the news release. “We have 200 CMP line workers, approximately 320 contract line workers and 124 tree crews traveling to service locations across the state to be ready early Saturday when the storm hits. We urge our customers to prepare in the event outages occur.”

As of Friday afternoon, several central Maine businesses have already planned to close their doors Saturday in anticipation of the storm. Goggins IGA in Randolph announced they would be closed Saturday but would reopen Sunday at 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Kennebec Valley YMCA will be closed all day Saturday.

Augusta and Gardiner both issued a citywide parking ban from Saturday at noon to Sunday at noon and vehicles in violation will be towed. The town of Richmond has a parking ban from Saturday at noon until Monday at noon. Waterville’s parking ban starts at noon Saturday and continues until 6 a.m. Sunday.

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