February 28, 2013

Storm dumps less snow than predicted

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

The storm that was predicted to drop several inches to a foot of snow over central Maine Wednesday was, well, kind of a flop.
At least that’s how school kids might characterize the storm, which arrived later than expected and left early, dumping 2 or 3 inches of snow in the Waterville area.
School officials Wednesday watched the storm closely. Some dismissed classes early, and Newport-based Regional School Unit 19 even made an early decision to close schools today.
“I think the most disappointed people today are the school kids,” Waterville Public Works Director Mark Turner said Thursday.
So, what happened?
Tom Hawley, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said snowfall was a bit less than anticipated.
“I think the initial issue was, when it started snowing, it was warm enough to melt when it hit the ground and roads,” he said.
Farmington got 7.8 inches, Albion got 3, Hartland, 9, North Anson, 4, and Harmony, 3 inches, according to Hawley.
“It ranged all over the place,” he said.
The heaviest snowfall reported was in Bethel, which got about 10 inches; Portland Jetport reported 2.9 inches; Central Oxford County, 8; Livermore Falls, 5; and Winthrop, 4.5, according to Hawley.
Thursday was expected to be cloudy with possible periods of sun and scattered rain and snow showers at night, he said.
“There’s a possibility we could see a half-inch of snow overnight tonight, but we’re in a cloudy stretch right now.”
Clouds were expected to reign right through the weekend and a sunny day might not arrive until Wednesday, he said.
Eric Haley, superintendent of Alternative Organizational Structure 92, which includes Waterville, Winslow and Vassalboro schools, said making a decision whether to cancel classes early Wednesday was difficult, as weather predictions were all over the place.
“You couldn’t get a read on it,” he said.
AOS 92 did release students early Wednesday, but Haley said he knew better than to make an early decision to close schools on Thursday.
“I made that mistake once in my career,” he said. “It was sunny and mild and beautiful, and I said, ‘Never again.’”
That was about 10 years ago. Haley recalled getting a lot of ribbing from people that day.
Like other school and highway chiefs, he keeps a close watch on the weather and considers all scenarios before making a decision to close schools.
“I was up at three this morning and it was raining and the temperature was 32, so I knew we were good,” he said.
Meanwhile, Turner said that the storm was odd in that the radar showed a blizzard going on at one point, but it was actually not snowing in Waterville.
“It evaporated before it hit the ground,” he said.
Snow was expected to start falling in the city around noon Wednesday but the afternoon was quiet and then there was a spurt of snow around 6 p.m.
“It went until 7:30 p.m. and that was it,” Turner said. “It was all done. I’m not going to complain. We made out pretty well,” I think.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247
acalder@centralmaine.com
 

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