Joe Jackson fastens a fresh set of chains on his plow truck in the Auburn Public Works garage in Auburn on Friday morning. One to 2 feet of snow is expected across the state over the weekend. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham)

There’s no denying it. The first big storm of winter is on the way and all signs Friday suggested it could be a beast.

Parking bans have gone into effect in most cities and towns for the entire weekend. Armies of utility crews are gathering with their trucks, waiting for the inevitable mayhem. Grocery stores? Mobbed with people stocking up and preparing for the worst. Dollar stores, too.

With up to a foot and a half of snow in the forecast for some areas, Central Maine Power was prepositioning its fleets in preparation for power outrages.

In addition to CMP crews, more than 100 contracted line crews from Maine and Canada were prepared to assist in restoration efforts. An additional 100 tree crews were to be on hand to clear limbs and trees on or near power lines, CMP officials said. Crews will be positioned along the Interstate 95 corridor and inland Saturday to enable an early response Sunday morning.

Natural gas companies, as well, were wary of damage to their systems and were putting extra crews on standby during the weekend storm.

“Light, fluffy snow blows around and typically doesn’t stick to trees and limbs as it falls. However, small changes in temperature can have a significant effect on the overall impact, so we will be watching this storm closely as it develops during the overnight hours Saturday and into Sunday,” Unitil Media Relations Manager Alec O’Meara said Friday.

“Should the snow remain normal for our region, wind gusts at the coast and motor vehicle accidents will pose the most significant threat to the system during this event,” O’Meara said. “We encourage everyone to stay off the roads during the storm’s peak hours, as travel will be very difficult.”

Weather forecasters say the snow will begin Saturday evening, after 7 p.m., and it will keep falling all day Sunday and into Sunday night. By the time all is said and done, some areas could see nearly 2 feet of fresh snow, according to the Friday night forecasts.

Skiers were licking their chops in anticipation, with one resort official referring to the coming snow as “a big-kid storm.”

On Facebook, Lost Valley Ski Area in Auburn posted a photo of a weather map calling for between 18 and 24 inches in this area.

“Are we the only ones who smile like the Grinch when we see this snow map?” they wrote. “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

At the stores, parking lots were full and lines were long throughout the day Friday. In most carts was the usual array of pre-storm items: bread, milk, toilet paper, pet food and more than a few cases of beer and jugs of liquor.

Some shoppers said they were out just to pick up a few things. Others said it was all about the coming storm and that they were grabbing enough food, water and emergency items to get them through several days if need be.

Meteorologists predict snowfall during the weekend storm will likely be at its heaviest Sunday morning when snow is expected to fall at up to an inch per hour. There could also be sleet, forecasters say, along with frigid temperatures and wind gusting up to 30 mph.

Or as Laurie Charest of Auburn put it: “Maine finally acting like Maine!”


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