Running late, storm blows into Maine

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At about 3 p.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service reported that heavy, consistent snow had just moved into New Hampshire. To the north, Mainers braced themselves for what was being billed as possibly one of the biggest storms of the winter.

Five hours later, they were still waiting.

Although significant snow was still predicted, the forecast was modified slightly as the day wore on. Instead of 18-24 inches, Lewiston was expected to see 16 inches by the time the storm ends.

Instead of 5 p.m., meteorologists said the storm would begin to pick up at about 7 in Central and Western Maine, with the worst of it coming after midnight.

The details may have changed, but preparations went on unabated.

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Gail Rice, spokeswoman for Central Maine Power, said Wednesday that storm readiness teams had been meeting in preparation for the storm and that crews were in place in case of outages.

With more than a foot of wet, heavy snow in the forecast, outages seemed likely.

“The snow could coat tree limbs, bringing them down onto power lines and causing outages,” Rice wrote in a news release. “Wind gusts may also cause tree limbs from outside the utility’s trim zone to come into contact with lines.”

At Ward’s Neighborhood Market on Pine Street in Lewiston, workers said lines were long all day at the meat counter and at the registers, as locals stocked up for what may prove to be a two-day snow event.

It was the same scene at grocery stores across the region as Mainers picked up last-minute items before the storm barreled in.

School classes everywhere were canceled for Thursday. Parking bans were in effect, events and public meetings were postponed and many businesses opted to close on Thursday instead of braving more than a foot of snow.

By 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, parts of New Hampshire had recorded 3 inches of snow. In Maine, less than an inch had fallen in most areas, although up to two inches were reported in York County where roughly 400 CMP customers lost power.

Not everybody was fretting about the coming storm. Skiers and slope operators, for instance, were downright giddy.

“Our patience through those spring-like, snow-less days,” according to the message on the Sugarloaf Mountain Resort web page, “is about to pay off in a big way.”

At Lost Valley Ski Area in Auburn, officials announced that with fresh snow and schools closed, the slopes will open at noon Thursday.

“I hate it,” Paul Frey said Wednesday evening of the approaching snowstorm, as he sipped coffee to warm up before walking home from Hannaford supermarket in Auburn. “I’m going to be stuck in the house the whole day.” (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

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