December 30, 2013

New snow, upcoming arctic chill may cause more problems for central Mainers

Sunday night’s storm left more than a foot of snow in some areas and sub-zero temperatures the next couple of nights will usher in another storm.

By Doug Harlow
Staff Writer

A quick moving storm Sunday night dropped up to a foot of snow on central Maine and ushered in a wave of bitterly cold arctic air for New Year’s Eve.

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A TEAM EFFORT: Steve Schmidt, center, along with Scott Berry, left, and Ryan Doyon, far right, work to clear a parking lot behind an apartment building owned and operated by Kennebec Behavioral Health on Silver Street in Waterville on Monday. Sunday night’s fast-moving storm dumped close to a foot of snow in many locales in central Maine.

Photo by Jeff Pouland

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IN SERVICE OF THE CHURCH: Rich Garling of Waterville works to clear snow from Sunday night’s snow in front of Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Pleasant Street in Waterville on Monday. “This would be normal back in the day. Old Man Winter has returned,” said Garling, referring to all the snow that’s fallen this month.

Photo by Jeff Pouland

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Wind chill values Tuesday night for revelers ringing in the new year could feel as low as 14 below zero, according to the National Weather Service.

Meteorologist Margaret Curtis at the National Weather Service forecast office in Gray said Sunday night’s storm left a band a heavy snow along a line from Bethel, Rumford and Farmington to Skowhegan. Some towns in that area, as well as pockets farther east and south, like Belgrade Lakes, got as much as 14 or 15 inches of new snow, she said.

Areas around Waterville and Winslow were generally in the 10-inch range, according to Curtis. In southern Kennebec County, Mount Vernon recorded 11.5 inches of snow and Winthrop had about 8 inches.

Rich Garling of Waterville, clearing snow Monday morning in front of Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Pleasant Street, said the amount of snowfall lately “would be normal back in the day.”

“Old Man Winter has returned,” Garling said.

Another powerful winter storm could be headed into the region Thursday and Friday.

“We will have clear and very cold temperatures to start the new year and then late Wednesday night into Thursday there will be some snow showers,” Curtis said. “At this point it does look like there could be a storm late in the week, but it could also go out to sea. It’s so cold there’s no chance for rain or sleet, it should be all snow.”

Temperatures Tuesday night are predicted to bottom out at about 2 degrees in most areas of central Maine, then will dip to about minus-8 Wednesday night, according to the forecast.

Temperatures never got above freezing as predicted over the weekend, leaving built-up ice from the last week’s ice storm still on tree limbs. Another winter storm with heavy snow and high wind could mean more power lines down and more outages, she said.

“Certainly if they already have ice on them, any additional snow would cause problems and it does not look like anything will melt over the next several days, it looks very cold,” she said.

The Portland Jetport has recorded 26.2 inches of snow for the month of December — more than double the snowfall in a typical December — making it the 12th snowiest December on record, according to the National Weather Service. The snowiest December of record was in 1970, when 54.8 inches of snow fell in Portland.

Central Maine Power Co. spokesman John Carroll said Sunday’s snow storm created a rash of new power outages. At the peak of the ice storm that lingered for four days including Christmas, 123,000 CMP customers were without power.

The new snow just made things worse, Carroll said.

“Power is still out in a lot of areas, especially in the middle part of the state,” Carroll said Monday. “With the incremental weight, the addition of more weight on those branches that are already loaded with ice will make them snap.”

Over six hours Sunday night CMP outages rose from 620 to 5,614, with Waldo and Knox counties the hardest hit. By 2 p.m. Friday CMP reported 2,583 customers without power.

Carroll said most of the damage from the ice storm last week was repaired, meaning all the new outages a result of the new snow Sunday night into Monday.

“The cold makes our work all the more urgent,” he said. “When it’s really cold, it’s a hardship for customers — it goes beyond being an annoyance into something that can be really threatening to the homes and health. It has a real added urgency.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367dharlow@centralmaine.comTwitter: @Doug_Harlow

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Additional Photos

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CLEARING THE ROOF: Eric Blier of Waterville clears snow off the roof of his motor home that fell during Sunday night’s storm next to his house on Cool Street in Waterville on Monday. Blier said he measured 14 inches of snow on top of his roof. Blier’s wife, Carol, said the couple would normally be in Florida right now, but because she’s battling cancer, they hope to get down there in the next month or so. “I wanted to get up there and help, but he wouldn’t let me,” said Carol.

Photo by Jeff Pouland


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