Nor’easter barreling toward Maine

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More than a week of extreme cold in northern New England will give way briefly, but hold your celebrations — the warming temperature is going to be accompanied by a howling snowstorm.

The National Weather Service said the snow will arrive Thursday, with 8 to 12 inches expected in southern and western Maine. The weather service winter storm watch, which states there is potential for significant snow, sleet or ice accumulations that may affect travel, also says:

• Possible heavy and blowing snow could make travel difficult during the daytime and evening commute;

• A winter storm watch is in effect from Thursday morning through Friday morning;

• Wind gusts could reach 35 to 45 mph. The wind will continue Friday before colder temperatures return for the weekend; and

• Wind chills could fall as low as minus 15, which can cause frostbite on exposed skin within 30 minutes.

Expecting the worst, school officials in Lewiston and Auburn on Wednesday made the decision to cancel classes Thursday.

“I rarely make this call the day before,” Lewiston School Superintendent Bill Webster posted on Facebook on Wednesday afternoon, “but the severity and certainty of the forecast makes this decision appropriate and will give families extra time to prepare.”

Reaction to the early cancellation was almost universally positive.

“I’d rather see my kids go to school until July,” one Lewiston mother wrote in response to Webster’s post, “than to be in an accident in a blizzard, which is what every local news station is calling for.”

Most school systems were following suit, including RSU 4 that includes Wales, Sabattus and Litchfield schools. Officials announced around dinnertime Wednesday the decision to cancel classes for Thursday.

Businesses all over were also playing it safe. By the end of the day Wednesday, several in and around Lewiston-Auburn had announced they would close Thursday.

National Weather Service officials heartily approve. They strongly advised staying home during the storm. For anyone who absolutely must travel, officials advise carrying a winter survival kit and if you get stranded, to stay with your vehicle.

Weather forecasters say with wind gusts of more than 35 mph expected, power outages might add extra complications. Central Maine Power on Wednesday said they are ready for it.

“CMP’s storm readiness teams have been holding planning meetings,” company officials said in a news release, “and the company is pre-positioning personnel and equipment to ensure that adequate resources are in place to restore power outages that might occur as a result of the storm.”

CMP was also providing tips on how to prepare for the storm, how to best endure it and what to do when it is over. Those tips can be found at cmp.com.

Crowded grocery stores? You bet. Around the Twin Cities on Wednesday, traffic was heavy at most stores as locals prepared for the coming storm.

Parking bans? But of course.

Lewiston declared a ban from 8 p.m. Thursday to 7 a.m. Friday.

Auburn’s parking ban goes from 9 a.m. Thursday to 9 a.m. Friday.

Weather service meteorologist Eric Sinsabaugh said Thursday’s storm will be a classic nor’easter.

On the bright side, he said, the snow will be light and fluffy, making shoveling easier.

Temperatures will plummet on Friday and Saturday, with lows of minus 10 degrees predicted for Portland on Friday and Saturday and highs of zero to 5 degrees.

Information from the Portland Press Herald was used in this story.

Snow forecast tracker

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press

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Elijah Burgess repairs a snowblower at Reggie’s Outdoor Power Equipment in Auburn on Wednesday. Shop owner Reggie Emery said that his crew has been very busy for a winter that has just begun. “We have sold a couple hundred snowblowers this winter,” Emery said. The shop is about two weeks behind on repairs, but employees accommodate simple repairs, he said. “We are all in this together.” (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
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