As a significant snowstorm approaches New England after days of snow and ice pummeled southern states, the National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Androscoggin and 10 other Maine counties.
The storm warnings last through Wednesday night. The National Weather Service also issued winter weather advisories for Franklin and Oxford counties, ending at 12 a.m. Thursday.
“It will be snowing pretty continuously throughout the day” in Lewiston and Auburn on Wednesday, beginning around sunrise, Margaret Curtis, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service station in Gray, said. Between 5 and 9 inches of snow are expected to fall in the Twin Cities, she said, with up to a foot in Portland and other coastal areas.
Wednesday's storm will likely not be as severe as the winter's first major squall in December. “There certainly will not be blizzard conditions,” Curtis said, noting that the Weather Service predicted wind speeds in the 10 to 15 mile per hour range. Winds must blow at 35 mph for at least three hours for a snowstorm to be classified as a blizzard.
Blizzard or not, the storm still merits some care. “Be careful, use your winter caution,” Curtis said.
Checkout lines at Hannaford's supermarket on Sabattus Street stretched far beyond normal for a Tuesday afternoon, Jim Cole said after doing some shopping there around 4:30 p.m. I just went to get a few things, but I ended up waiting for quite a while,” Cole said, as those around him loaded up on snowstorm standards like batteries, milk and bread.
In Auburn, schools Superintendent Tom Morrill thought a snow day was on the way Tuesday night. “All the weather indications point to having fairly heavy snow, starting right at daybreak,” just as students normally leave for school, “so having school tomorrow will be very unlikely,” Morrill said.
Morrill said he would wait to consult with weather services early Wednesday morning to see if the storm was still on track to hit the area before making a final decision. But on Tuesday, the talk around Auburn schools sounded like most students and schools staff were figuring on having Wednesday off, he said.
“Not having had a snow day yet, some people will be happy to have it, just to be able to say it's really winter," Morrill said. "There was a great deal of discussion and conversation beginning over the weekend when it became apparent a storm was coming, because it certainly wreaked havoc on the southern states.”
While not the same storm, exactly, the blizzards that shut down much of the South on Sunday and Monday have already had an impact on Maine, as a number of flights to and from the Portland Jetport were canceled. As of Tuesday night, several Wednesday flights from Portland to Newark, and to Portland from storm-struck cities such as Baltimore, Atlanta and Philadelphia had already been canceled.