Mainers in many parts of the state are waking up Friday morning to the first significant snowfall of the year.

The storm has prompted dozens of districts to close schools, cities to issue parking bans and officials to warn people to be prepared for winter travel conditions. A winter storm warning is in effect in most areas until 1 p.m.

“We’re urging people to use plenty of time and plenty of caution. Caution is key, especially since this is the first snow storm of the season.” ” said Ted Talbot, spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation. “There is a lot of traffic out today. That begs for extra time and extra space between vehicles.”

Most of southern and central Maine could get 4 to 8 inches of snow Friday, according to the National Weather Service office in Gray. Portland and the southern coast will likely see lower totals as sleet mixes with snow, creating difficult driving conditions.

By 6 a.m., 4 inches of snow had fallen in Saco and more than 2 inches was reported in Brunswick. Falmouth, Kennebunk and South Portland had 3 inches of snow before dawn.

Commuters will want to allow plenty of extra time as they head out onto slippery roads. Several car crashes were reported on the Maine Turnpike between York and South Portland in the pre-dawn hours, according to the Maine Turnpike Authority.

“Plows crews are out and roads are being steadily cleared but we are seeing a few slide offs and accidents,” Portland police tweeted Friday morning.

The speed limit on the Maine Turnpike has been reduced to 45 mph from Kittery to Augusta and oversized loads are prohibited.

Talbot said MDOT crews have already been out for hours clearing roads.

“This is the type of snow that is very plowable and movable,” he said. “Visibility isn’t much of an issue.”

Dozens of schools are closed for the first snow day of the year, while others in southern areas delayed start times. The University of Maine, University of Southern Maine and Southern Maine Community College also announced classes will be canceled Friday.

Parking bans have been announced in a handful of communities, including Brunswick, Windham and Sanford.

The storm comes more than a month before the official start of winter and nearly a week before Thanksgiving, but it’s not unusual for Maine to get snow this year, according to the weather service.

Average date of first snow is not an official statistic, but the weather service office in Gray has been keeping track informally and counts Nov. 25 as the average date for southern Maine.

On Tuesday, up to 8 inches of snow was reported in parts of Franklin, Oxford and Somerset counties. Some pockets of northern and western Maine saw measurable snow late last month, but much of the state has been spared.

Portland has seen at least 20 inches before December many times but not since 1997. The average snowfall for all of November in Portland is 3.3 inches, according to the weather service.

The storm is likely to move out quickly by Friday evening and Saturday’s weather looks pleasant with temperatures warming into the 40s.

Mark Metcalf shovels snow outside of his home in Portland on Friday, November 16, 2018. A few inches of snow fell on Portland overnight, but by morning it turned into a mix of snow and rain. (Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald)


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