A pedestrian crosses Campus Avenue near Bates College in Lewiston as the storm increases in intensity Sunday night.

Updated Storm Blog: Maine closes state offices as Nor’easter slams state

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LEWISTON — As a massive storm began Sunday afternoon, people across the state were preparing to be snowed in by up to 2 feet of snow and blizzard conditions. 

The Associated Press reported that this could take the title of biggest storm of the season from one that dumped up to 19 inches this past Thursday.

The National Weather Service said the inland area of Maine was looking at 18 to 24 inches of snow with wind gusts ranging from 35 to 50 mph. 

Meteorologist James Brown said Sunday the storm had taken a slightly more easterly track, “so the snow totals in the mountain regions will be a little lower than predicted.” 

Brown said the storm was expected to end by 3 p.m. Monday in the Androscoggin area and by 1 p.m. in the Oxford and Franklin areas.

“It is a dangerous storm because of high winds, low visibility and heavy snow,” said Lenore Correia, a weather service meteorologist in Taunton, Massachusetts. “It’s a big snowstorm, but nothing we haven’t seen before, either.”

More than 3,000 flights were canceled nationwide by midmorning Sunday, including 155 flights at Boston’s Logan International Airport, according to the flight tracking service FlightAware.

Parking bans and cancellations also were announced locally.

Lewiston issued a parking ban effective from 6 p.m. Sunday to 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Auburn issued a parking ban from 6 p.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. Tuesday and the city will not pick up trash Monday.

Auburn and Lewiston announced Sunday afternoon that there would be no school Monday. 

The town of Brunswick has a parking ban in place from 7 p.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. Tuesday. The municipal parking lot between Bank street and Center Street will be open for public parking from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday.

P&G Tambrands in Auburn closed Sunday at 5:45 p.m. and was to reopen Monday at 5:45 p.m. 

The storm was welcome news at ski areas, which faced some of the lowest snowfall totals in years during the winter of 2015-16.

“It’s the complete opposite of last year in terms of snow,” said Rachael Wilkinson, director of marketing at Shawnee Peak in Bridgton. “It’s night and day and everyone is absolutely thrilled.”

The ski area is expected to get 20 to 26 inches of snow by the end of the day Monday.

Auburn police in a Facebook post were urging all motorists to “please stay off the roads (unless travel is imperative). We have responded to many motor vehicle crashes today and things are only bound to get worse as the storm progresses.”

Lewiston Police Lt. Michael McGonagle said there hadn’t been very many crashes by Sunday afternoon. “We’re as prepared as we ever will be. Stay warm, bundle up, and don’t go out unless you absolutely have to.”

A dispatcher at the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office said the region had seen 60 to 70 crashes Saturday, and another 20 by 4 p.m. Sunday. “Only one was an injury accident; the rest were just fender benders,” the dispatcher said. 

The Bangor Police Department took to Facebook on Sunday to offer its own take on official snowstorm advice. The department reminded people to check with their bosses before staying in and taking the day off, and to take off their ski masks before checking in on elderly neighbors.

Those who do go out should take a blanket, water, a working flashlight, a small shovel, a charged cellphone, snacks and mittens — not gloves.

“Now get to the grocery store and buy things you will never need. Our economy depends on it,” the Bangor department quipped.

AccuWeather’s “Blizzard Survival Guide” offered real advice:

• Stay inside;

• Close off unneeded rooms to save heat;

• Stuff towels or rags in cracks underneath doors to conserve heat;

• Cover the windows at night;

• Eat and drink to prevent dehydration;

• Wear layers of loose-fitting, light-weight and warm clothing.

• And if you’re stuck outside, find a dry shelter immediately and cover all exposed body parts.

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John White uses a tractor to remove snow from the end of his son’s driveway in Auburn on Sunday afternoon, just as the storm was beginning. “I’m making room for more snow!” he said.

Bates students Alexandra Howard, in front, Ian Wax and Niamh Micklewhite frolic on Mount David on Saturday afternoon. The trio took small sleds up the campus mountain and sledded and rolled down the hill.

A cross-country skier, who declined to give his name, skis on the city sidewalk on Pettingill Street in Lewiston on Sunday. By dusk, the snow was falling heavily.

How Sun Journal readers prepared for the storm, according to Facebook postings: 

• Lisa Mayer: “Buying ORIGAMI paper — gonna learn how to make some fun stuff with my 7-year old twins.”

• Jordan Flynn: “Caught up on laundry, bathed the kids, charged the iPad, & bought crafting supplies.”

• Ivy Washburn: “By sleeping.” 

• Sara Dalba: “Extra batteries and pet friendly ice melt.”

• Theresa Theriault: “Digging out some old favorite books.”

• Stephen Amoroso: “Trying to get my snow-blower fixed, got plenty of books and movies and lots of paint.”

• Kaila McCracken: “Signed up for a free trial of HBO now so that I can watch ‘Westworld’ start to finish.” 

The Oxford County Sheriff’s Office is on the scene of one of the 20 crashes reported by 4 p.m. on Sunday. Police urged drivers to stay off the roads if possible. This accident was on Route 121 in Oxford.

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