February 9, 2013

Raging winter storm Nemo buries southern communities, causes headaches across Maine

Wind gusts near 50 throughout region; Litchfield suspends road plowing Saturday morning; Augusta sends plow truck ahead of ambulances

By Doug Harlow dharlow@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

It wasn’t so much deep snow that had heads spinning and cars slipping off the road in central Maine during Saturday’s monster blizzard, named Nemo.

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Liam Poulin runs back to his father's plowtruck after looking at the fallen sign at Cumberland Farms in Waterville. A store worker said the sign fell to the ground during strong winds before dawn on Saturday.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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Brad Shaw shovels a path to the door of his Fussbudget's Sports Card shop around 12:25 p.m. on Saturday.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Additional Photos Below

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Snowfall totals from winter storm Nemo, as reported by the National Weather Service and The Weather Channel:

Augusta: 23 inches

Waterville: 12.3 inches

Skowhegan: 9 inches

Farmington: 9.2 inches

Jackman: 3 inches

Portland: 29 inches

See our interactive snowfall map

It was high wind, gusting to 50 mph in places, reducing visibility on the roads, carving out big snow drifts and knocking out power to about 3,000 Central Maine Power Co. customers in the area at its height early Saturday.

CMP said Saturday afternoon it was on pace to have power restored to all customers tonight, and about 320 customers were in the dark at about 5 p.m. 

State police spokesman Steve McCausland told the Associated Press that many vehicles, including several state police cruisers, got stuck in the deep snow.

Plow trucks also slid off the road in Kennebec and Somerset counties, snapping utility poles, but not resulting in injuries. Waterville police, state police and the sheriff’s office in Franklin County said there was plenty of slipping and sliding and a few fender-benders, but no serious motor vehicle accidents.

In Somerset County, someone was taken to a local hospital following a motor vehicle accident on East Madison Road at about noon. A car reportedly struck a utility pole, snapping it, but additional details were not available.

The Maine Pond Hockey Classic was postponed until today on China Lake. The Rangeley Lakes snowmobile parade to set a Guinness World Record fell short of expectations, a gas station ran out of gas in China and many stores and restaurants were closed.

Waterville Public Works Director Mark Turner said the city received about a foot of snow from the storm. He said visibility overnight was down to zero.

“This morning, it was roaring,” Turner said Saturday.

Turner said his crews have been sent out 19 times this winter for ice and snow storms.

Whiteout conditions forced Litchfield road crews to suspend plow operations for a while early Saturday.

Without any shoulder snow banks for sightline guidance, during this ‘second wave’ of blinding snow, The crew can’t even find the center of the roads!” Town Manager Michael Byron reported via e-mail to selectmen.

Later, he said the crews were sent home to rest so they could return today. 

The heavy snowfall poses problems for rescue crews as well.

In Augusta, a firefighter driving a plow truck headed out with each of the city’s rescue vehicles. Augusta Fire Chief Roger Audette that vehicle helps clear the driveway entrance.

“The real challenge is getting to people’s doors. We have to shovel out just to get into their houses,” he said.

In Skowhegan, Road Commissioner Greg Dore said crews brought out front-end loaders to keep street-side parking open to shoppers who ventured downtown. He said visibility for plow drivers was poor when crews hit the road at about 3:30 a.m. Saturday.

Dore said his department is halfway through the overtime budget and halfway through the salt budget for the winter.

Snowfall amounts dropped off quickly north of Augusta, where 23 inches were recorded Saturday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

Meteorologist Chris Legro said the blizzard that dropped a record 29 inches of snow in Portland brought about 9 inches to Skowhegan, 9.2 inches to Farmington and 3 inches to Jackman, in northern Somerset County.

The Weather Channel reported about 12.3 inches of snow fell in Waterville, 

Wind gusts in New Portland, in Somerset County, were recorded at 59 mph, according to Legro. Gusts in Waterville were recorded at 49 mph, with a wind gust in Augusta marked at 47 mph. Legro said wind gusts were averaging 25-35 mph during the storm.

Blizzard warnings remained in effect until 4 p.m. Saturday in Waterville and Augusta.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Winter storm Nemo hammers central Maine early Saturday morning.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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Nick Hunt, left, and Patrick Malloy walk into wind-blown snow in Waterville during blizzard-like conditions on Saturday. Both men said the weather was both cold and terrible.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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Luke Schaedle uses his snowblower as he tries to keep up with the snow storm that was near blizzard conditions at his home in Benton on Saturday.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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