L-A road crews brace for ’24 hours’ of snow

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It happens every time. Start talking about how little snow we’ve had and then, boom. A storm comes barreling in and what do you know? The snowblower is out of gas and you have no idea where the shovels are.

It could happen to anyone. With as much as a foot of snow in the forecast for Thursday, even weather experts can get harried.

“I haven’t started my snowblower in a month and a half,” National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Cempa said.

Welcome to the club. By early Wednesday night, grocery stores were crowded as leery Mainers stocked up on things they didn’t think they’d need until next winter. Water. Candles. Bread and cold cuts. Beer and wine.

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You could call it an overreaction or just good sense — it’s no wimpy storm in the forecast. Forecasters were calling for between 8-12 inches in most areas in what was expected to be an all-day storm. Good luck trying to sleep through it.

“It’s going to start around midnight and really just continue for 24 hours,” Cempa said. “It’s going to be a slow event.”

March, true to form, promised to come in like a lion.

As far as snow goes, what falls on Thursday is expected to be pure.

“Not too wet, not too dry,” Cempa said. “Just your normal snow.”

Which means the ski companies were ecstatic, to the point where they encouraged skiers to skip out of work to hit the slopes.

“If you’ve been pining away for one of those classic midweek powder days with endless first tracks and nonexistent lift lines,” according to the daily report at Sugarloaf Ski Area, “Now’s the time to call in sick to work and get up here. It’s going to snow down south too, so don’t be that one guy or gal that shows up to work tomorrow. That’s no fun.”

“We can’t help but wonder,” mused the folks at Sunday River on their website, “can it get any better? Is that even possible? We’re sure Mother Nature is up for that challenge.”

The storm also promises to help with the numbers. Snowfall totals have been woefully lacking in terms of seasonal norms. By late Wednesday, the total for the season was just a smidge over 29. Compare that to the seasonal average of 46.3 inches at this time of year.

Officially, the storm looks like this: “A warm front will stall south of New England as low pressure forms along this boundary later today,” according to the NWS winter storm warning. “The front will remain south of New England as the low continues to move slowly to the east Thursday. This will give the region a prolonged period of snow.”

But knowing how it works won’t help if you forgot where you put your ice scraper and winter boots. Weather forecasters are hoping that early warning of the coming storm will help mitigate things like car crashes and other problems on the highways. Police, too. By Wednesday afternoon, they were issuing parking bans to get cars and trucks off the streets so the plows can do their thing.

In Auburn and Lewiston, the ban was in effect overnight. Police warned that vehicles left on city streets would be towed.

It’s starting to feel like winter again, after all.

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