AUGUSTA — Tens of thousands of customers were without power Thursday and officials were expecting a dayslong restoration effort as a spring nor’easter was on track to dump more than a foot of wet, heavy snow across central Maine.

By evening, roughly 14,000 Central Maine Power Co. customers were without power in Kennebec County, as more than 300,000 power outages were reported statewide.

CMP released a statement Thursday saying it expected some customers to be without power for several days as the company coordinated a “multiple-day restoration effort, lasting into early next week.”

More than a foot of snow had fallen in many central Maine communities by Thursday afternoon. Wet, heavy snow was expected to continue falling sporadically Friday and into Saturday, according to Michael Clair, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Gray.

“We’re starting to get reports consistently in that 10- to 12-inch range,” Clair said at about 2 p.m. Thursday. “The next band of more widespread heavy snow is starting to push in, so we’re expecting the totals to keep going up through the day (Thursday) across Kennebec and Somerset counties.”

Michael Clement clears a driveway with a snowblower Thursday in Hallowell as a nor’easter dumps a foot or more of snow across central Maine. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Wind speeds Thursday remained between 30 and 35 mph in much of central Maine, Clair said, and were expected to taper off — along with the storm — into the weekend.

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The wind gusts and heavy snow were expected Thursday to cause more power outages in the coming days. Snapped branches and downed trees were among the most serious concerns, according to Angela Molino, director of the Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency.

“With this spring snow, it can weigh down some pretty heavy trees,” she said, “and some of those are dropping into roadways and snapping power lines. It’s dangerous. We may see an increase in broken limbs with this wind.”

A storm such as Thursday’s nor’easter is unusual this time of year, according to Stephen Baron, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray. While snowfall is not unusual in early April, he said, the amount that began falling Thursday has not been seen in almost 30 years.

“This is definitely a high-end April storm,” Baron said. “Snow in April is not uncommon, but double-digit snowfall is. While Augusta’s climate center hasn’t had a snow observer since the early 2000s, the last time they recorded double-digit snowfall this late was in 1996.”

A city of Augusta plow truck throws up slush Thursday as it clears Mount Vernon Avenue. Weather forecasters said the nor’easter was expected to bring at least a foot of snow to central Maine. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The wet, fast-falling snow was creating slushy and slippery conditions on roads Thursday across central Maine. Coupled with reports of downed trees across the region, officials were advising people not travel unless necessary.

Speed limits on Interstate 95 and 295 were reduced to 45 mph because of road conditions. At least 20 crashes were reported in both Kennebec and Somerset counties, nearly all of which were minor as of 2 p.m. Thursday, according to officials.

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Across Maine, almost 50 crashes or cases where motorists had slid off the road were reported by Thursday afternoon, according to Shannon Moss, spokesperson for the state Department of Public Safety.

“For the most part, it appears drivers have heeded the warnings of public safety officials to stay off the roads,” Moss wrote in an email. “The snowfall intensity quickly deteriorated road conditions.”

Amanda Fowler, left, and Christine Desrosiers chat Thursday as they eat breakfast at the city’s emergency warming center at the Augusta Civic Center at 76 Community Drive. More than 20 people who had spent the previous night at the Augusta Overnight Emergency Warming Center at South Parish Congregational Church at 9 Church St. received rides from the church to the civic center. Some say they bought the food they were sharing at the nearby Walmart because they were not sure food would be provided, and the Bread of Life Soup Kitchen was closed due to the storm. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Chief Deputy Mike Mitchell of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office described road conditions Thursday as “variable.” He said plow trucks were “doing their job,” but conditions were changing quickly as snow continued to fall.

“The roads can be deceiving sometimes, especially now,” Mitchell said. “There’s some roads, including state highways, that are covered with slush. They’re deceiving in the respect that you can be driving, the temperature’s just slightly above freezing, then you hit a patch where there’s slush and it’s slick, and if you’re not careful, you can fall off the road just like that.”

Officials said Thursday they were greatly concerned about power outages, many of which were expected to continue into Friday or the weekend.

CMP called in more than 450 line crews and 250 tree crews Wednesday evening, according to company spokesperson Jonathan Breed, as the utility prepared for a dayslong recovery effort.

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“Heavy, wet snow can significantly slow travel, and having the right personnel, equipment, and materials in the right places ahead of a storm like this can help ensure fast and safe power restoration,” Breed wrote Wednesday in a statement.

Somerset County had been largely spared as of early Thursday afternoon, according to the Michael Smith, the county’s emergency management deputy director. Fewer than 1,000 residents had lost power, and while roads remained slick, Smith said the reported damage was minimal.

“It looks like there will be concern (about outages) potentially through (Friday) sometime,” Smith said, “but we’ve been having bursts in Skowhegan, where it’s been snowing, then all of a sudden it’s rain, so it’s a little up in the air.”

In Augusta, a pair of emergency warming shelters provided protection Thursday: One at the Augusta Civic Center at 76 Community Drive was open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and another at South Parish Congregational Church at 9 Church St. is open nightly from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m.

In nearby Dresden, a warming and charging center is open at Pownalborough Hall at 314 Patterson Road.

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