Snow, sleet, freezing rain to make holiday shopping and travel not so nice

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Got Christmas shopping left to do?

Better get to it. According to forecasts, weather in the final days before the holiday will not be accommodating to you last-minute types.

We’re talking about several inches of snow followed by freezing rain and ice. Weather officials say the ugliness will begin Friday afternoon and continue into Saturday.

In addition, cities and towns all over the place are putting parking bans into effect, including Lewiston which actually announced two such bans.

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If you still need to run out for tourtiere pie, wrapping paper and egg nog, now would be a good time. And we mean RIGHT now.

National Weather Service

“Quite a complex forecast for the upcoming weekend,” the National Weather Service wrote on its Facebook page. “Snow is expected to arrive on Friday, bringing a widespread 3 to 6 inches of light, fluffy snow to northern New England. A warm front lifts north on Saturday, but cold air stays dug in near the ground level. This means snow will transition to freezing rain, with 0.1 to 0.25 inches of ice accretion possible.”

For some shoppers, perilous road conditions may lead to a desperate choice: brave the ice and snow and head to faraway shopping districts? Or creep to the gas station a block away and pick up ice scrapers, key chains and gift cards for all?

A flurry of shopping activity is common in the final days before Christmas. Although financial analysts say more people are shopping online now than ever, Dec. 22, 23 and part of 24 are typically reserved for mad dashes to local stores for the finishing touches.

Reactions to the weather forecast Thursday ranged from panic to indifference and even to exhilaration.

“I refuse to shop until the snow is flying and stress is in the air,” said Laurie-Anne Ouellette of Lewiston. “Perfect days to shop — nobody will be out.”

Gail Shelley of Auburn said she is done with her Christmas shopping, but the weather was wreaking havoc with her holiday travel plans.

Others said they plan to put off all things Christmas until early Sunday — Christmas Eve — when there is expected to be a brief pause between nasty weather events.

Local supermarkets this week have been advertising holiday food platters, poinsettias and a wide range of available gift cards as the countdown to Christmas ticked off its final hours. Why make the perilous drive to the Maine Mall or the Christmas Tree Shops, seemed to be the suggestion, when there is so much available just around the corner?

By midday Thursday, the volume of shoppers at the local Hannaford and Shaw’s supermarkets seemed vibrant. It remained to be seen how their stocks would hold up against the formidable combination of last-minute buying and winter-weather panic.

According to the latest predictions, the snow will get started in Lewiston at about 11 a.m. Friday, with towns to the north seeing it a few hours later.

And lest you think that it will be smooth sailing if you just bear down and get through the holiday, the National Weather Service is right there with another lump of coal for your stocking.

“Don’t look now,” the NWS advised, “but there are indications that we could get even more snow later next week along with some very cold air.”

Norman Michaud of Lewiston loads up a couple of buckets of sand at the Lewiston Public Works sand shed Thursday afternoon in preparation for the coming storms. Michaud says two buckets per storm are usually enough for his driveway, which goes uphill. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

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