Speed limit? Dropped. Parking? Banned. Roads? Slick and slushy.
Tuesday’s snowstorm didn’t get started until midday, but by the evening commute, things were looking awfully familiar. Salt and sand trucks were out in force. The police radio crackled with reports of cars slipping off roads. Offices closed, events were postponed and the daily gossip turned once more to the weather.
Tuesday’s storm, predicted to leave us with as much as 8 inches of snow, was only the beginning of what is forecast to be a week of misery.
Another 1-3 inches is likely on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures are expected to rise later in the week, but don’t be lulled by warmer weather: Forecasters say the Friday-morning commute could be a hairy one as a “large swath” of sleet and freezing rain moves through.
After that, rain. And a little more snow. And a rather significant concern over ice jams and associated forms of chaos.
By 9 p.m. Tuesday, 5 inches of snow had fallen across Androscoggin County. Similar numbers were reported in Oxford and Franklin counties and the snow was still coming down.
Skiers crowed on ski-area websites. Snowmobilers cheered on Facebook. Comics?
Yes, there’s something for them to work with, too.
“It’s so white out there,” said local comedian Mark Turcotte on Tuesday night, “I had to install a GPS on my snowblower. My plow guy did his taxes and listed me as a dependent. The kids are looking forward to the snow melting so they can play in our new basement water park.”
For most, though, it was just a grind.
Crashes were reported just about everywhere. In Oxford County, cars began to slip and slide during the early part of the evening commute, particularly on Route 121 and other throughways. In Androscoggin County, crashes were reported all over the place, with cars sliding into poles, snowbanks and each other.
Familiar, every bit of it. So were the lists of cancellations, closures and delays. College classes were canceled, Boys and Girls club events were postponed, church services were called off and a few diners and pizza shops closed early.
City council and selectmen meetings? Forget about it. In several towns and cities, government business was halted — again — with town and city leaders making hasty adjustments to their schedules.
“Sincere apologies to everyone,” Lewiston City Clerk Kathy Montejo wrote in a mass email, “this is not our usual mode of operation — I promise! Trying to coordinate and confirm everyone’s schedules has been challenging.”
To say the least.
Towns announced parking bans, although by this point in the season, police say most people had figured out that when it’s snowing, it’s not OK to park on city streets.
At Central Maine Power, at least, things were looking good. By early Tuesday night, fewer than 20 homes and businesses were reported without power and it was not even clear that those were weather-related.
Things could be worse?
On Mount Washington on Tuesday, the temperature was around 10 degrees, winds were blowing at 25 mph and the ground was buried under 19 inches of snow.
Light at the end of the tunnel?
10: Number of days until March
17: Days until clocks spring forward
31: Days until Major League Baseball season
121: Days until summer
Snowfall by Feb. 18 in Gray, Maine
Average: 42 inches
This season: 75 inches and counting (as of 10 p.m.)
Last season: 71 inches
Source: National Weather Service