A classic nor’easter is blowing through Maine on Thursday, with a foot or more of snow and winds in excess of 30 mph expected to create whiteout blizzard conditions.
Motorists were being advised to stay off roads except for emergencies. Highway speeds have been reduced to 45 mph as drifting snow could hamper visibility and plowing efforts.
The first major storm of 2018 has impeded other means of travel; Portland Jetport acted early and announced Wednesday it had canceled all flights by all airlines that fly in and out of that airport all day Thursday. Several of Friday’s flights have been cancelled. Ticket-holders are urged to call their airlines for updates.
Amtrak Downeaster announced it canceled trains 685 and 688, but all other trains are scheduled to operate Thursday. Amtrak officials warned travelers to expect delays.
Concord Coach Lines canceled all bus service from Maine, New Hampshire, Boston and New York on Thursday.
Greyhound has canceled service in Maine midnight Thursday through 8 a.m. Friday.
Schools, courts, the Legislature, city halls and other public facilities across Maine have closed or are expected to close shortly because of the storm.
Cities had imposed parking bans. Auburn Deputy Chief Jason Moen was urging motorists to get home by noon, when the winds are supposed to reach their maximum force. “Please stay off the streets if possible,” he said.
Many of those motorists who have ventured out on local roads are slipping and sliding off the roadway.
A Franklin County Regional Communications dispatcher said that, as of 1 p.m. Thursday, there had been a few minor motor vehicle accidents with no physical injury in Farmington and Wilton that were attributed to the storm.
As of 2 p.m., snowfall totals were 7.5 inches in the Lewiston-Auburn area, 7 in Oxford County, and 5 inches in Franklin County.
According to the National Weather Service at noon, the Lewiston-Auburn area can expect widespread blowing snow, mainly after 3 p.m. with temperatures near 22 degrees. Gusts could be as high as 45 mph. Total daytime snow accumulation of 8 to 12 inches possible.
Tonight, snow is expected to continue until 11 p.m. Wind chill could be as low as -5, with winds decreasing after midnight to 15 to 20 mph. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.
Snowfall is expected to be greater north and east of Lewiston-Auburn with as much as 18 inches expected Downeast.
Energy and utility companies are reminding customers to keep exhaust vents, gas meters and regulators clear of snow and ice as they clean up after winter storms.
Snow, ice and other debris can block exhaust vents for furnaces, water heaters and similar appliances, potentially causing toxic fumes and poisonous carbon monoxide to build up indoors. Snow and ice accumulated around natural gas meters and regulators can prevent gas company personnel and first-responders from locating and accessing them during an emergency.