Blizzard-like conditions extending into central Maine, where as much as 18 inches of snow blown around by wind gusts of over 40 mph was expected by the end of Saturday’s snowstorm, prompted numerous businesses to close and made it hard for the few drivers out on the roads to see where they were going.

A heavy band of snow coming off the coastline pushed inland Saturday afternoon, as the heaviest snowfall began to come into Augusta and Waterville and up through Newport, Michael Clair, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray said Saturday. The combination of heavy snow and blowing wind caused drifts  and a lack of visibility for the few travelers on the roads.

A blizzard warning issued by the weather service was extended Saturday afternoon to include the Augusta and Waterville areas.

“It’s really the strong winds and heavy snow, the combination of the two, that will keep conditions pretty bad for the rest of the afternoon,” Clair said. “The snow is blowing around so much there will be spots that are bare and spots that are bigger drifts.”

Shannon Moss, spokeswoman for Maine Department of Public Safety, said Maine State Police troopers were reporting light traffic Saturday, with only a couple of accidents involving vehicles sliding off the road.

However, in one incident Saturday morning on Interstate 95 northbound in Lewiston, the driver of a Toyota pickup truck collided with a Maine Turnpike Authority plow truck at 10:55 a.m.


A Waterville plow truck clears the intersection of Main Street and College Avenue as a Nor’easter pounds Waterville on Saturday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Moss said the pickup truck driver was in the passing lane and traveling too fast for conditions when he came upon the plow truck. The driver tried to go around the plow on the median side, but there wasn’t enough room to pass. The pickup hit the left wing of the plow, causing it to bend back and puncture a tank which held a brine solution used to treat roads. There were no injuries to either driver.

Moss reminded drivers to give plows room, and not to follow too closely behind or crowd plows when passing.

Sean Goodwin, emergency management agency director for Kennebec  County, said area public works crews seemed to be doing a good job keeping most roads clear, though the drifting snow made that a challenge.

He said Saturday afternoon there had been “some power outages, sprinkled around, but no big numbers, so that’s a good thing. Central Maine Power has 140 (additional) utility trucks and 80 tree crews (on hand for the storm), so they’re ready to go.”

Goodwin said some of their power restoration efforts could be hampered by the wind as crews can only raise the buckets of their trucks in winds of 35 mph or less.

Goodwin said Saturday afternoon that overall Kennebec County had “no calamities yet. We’re just kind of watching and listening, for now.”


Vehicles cross Memorial Bridge in Augusta through light snow around 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Many businesses were closed and there weren’t many vehicles on the road as the winter storm was just getting started. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

As of 3 p.m. on Saturday, no major crashes or incidents have been reported in Somerset County either, and it has been a “quiet day,” Somerset County Emergency Management Director Mike Smith said by email. Smith also noted that there were no reported power outages in the county.

Central Maine Power reported mid-Saturday afternoon that there were 1,336 customers without power in its service area, 18 of them in Kennebec County. The most were in Waldo County, where 532 customers were without power.

Clair said the snow could be heavy into the evening and continue until around midnight when it was expected to peter out.

He said the Augusta and Waterville areas would likely get between 12 and 18 inches of snow altogether, which would be this winter’s highest snowfall amounts from a storm. Areas closer to the coast were expected to receive on the high end of that range of snowfall.

On Sunday, sunshine is expected back but Clair said it will still be pretty chilly, with highs in the low 20s. He said Sunday’s winds could cause some continued drifting of snow, but not to the extent seen Saturday.

Numerous stores, restaurants and other businesses closed Saturday, announcing they were closing so their employees didn’t need to travel in the storm.

Some public entities yielded to the storm, too, with the town of Richmond’s transfer station, normally open Saturdays, closing due to the storm, A long-planned Augusta City Council goal-setting session for the coming year was canceled after the forecast worsened. Officials said the goal-setting session would be rescheduled.

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