After weeks of relatively mild weather, winter will return to Maine this week.

The National Weather Service office in Gray posted a winter storm watch Tuesday afternoon that will be in effect from Wednesday evening through Thursday evening. Forecasters say two separate storms will bring snow, rain and sleet to Greater Portland, as well as south central and southwest Maine.

The storms will likely affect travel for three days.

Accumulation predictions have changed in the past several hours, Stephen Baron, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Tuesday evening.

Some meteorologists have been treating the storm as a single event, and in some cases have predicted anywhere from 8 to 12 inches of snow from Wednesday into Friday, he said, but the weather service is now viewing it as two separate snowstorms and downgraded expected accumulations.

In Portland, the larger of the two storms should begin late Wednesday night and last through early Thursday afternoon before precipitation ends. The area will experience about a three-hour long lull before it begins snowing again Thursday night, Baron said.


Baron said the first storm will drop 4 to 6 inches of snow before turning to sleet or rain. Thursday night’s storm will drop another 2 to 3 inches of snow over the Portland area before turning to rain. That second storm should end fairly early Friday morning. Accumulation totals over the three-day period will be limited by rain and sleet.

Baron warned that the Thursday evening commute could be accompanied by snow, rain and sleet and could prove to be treacherous.

Though the precipitation should end Friday morning, Greater Portland will then see a sharp drop in temperatures. Baron predicted that Friday night lows could plummet to three degrees.

Wednesday’s weather should be sunny, with highs in the low 40s, but there is more snow in the forecast for early next week, Baron said, adding that it is still too early to be more specific.

Winter officially ends March 20.

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