February 9, 2013

'Above average storm' intensifies overnight in central, western Maine

Few power outages as storm picks up late Friday night into Saturday; driver pinned in Belgrade rollover

By Rachel Ohm rohm@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer


click image to enlarge

Rescue workers and firefighters extract a driver from a vehicle that lost control and rolled over into the woods on Route 8, near McGrath Pond Road in Belgrade, Friday afternoon.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

click image to enlarge

Tom Proctor, 57, of Moscow, in plaid jacket, watches after his green Chevrolet pick-up truck was involved in an accident Friday morning. The truck was totaled in a weather-related accident that involved three vehicles on Madison Avenue in Skowhegan.

Staff photo by Rachel Ohm

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 Wind and snow picked up overnight in central Maine as the blizzard that caused power outages and accidents as it surged north through New England came to life overnight Friday and into Saturday morning.

Some 350.000 power outages were reported in New York and New England by early Saturday morning, but Central Maine power reported only a handful in the state at 1 a.m., mostly in southern Maine.

The Centers for Disease Control issues a warning for the entire state, however, that homeowners who find themselves without power take precautions, including not heating a home with a gas oven or grill, keeping generatorss outdoors and not touching downed power lines.

The National Weather Service in Gray forecast blowing snow throughout the night, heavy at times, with accumulations of 18 to 24 inches by the time the storm winds down Saturday morning and early afternoon. Accumulations were expected to be lower in western and northern parts of the state.

Wind was expected to be up to 20 miles an hour, with gusts of up to 50 miles an hour.

Temperatures dropped into the single numbers overnight and were expected to not get higher than the 20s Saturday.

Police said it looked as though most drivers were heeding warnings to stay off the roads as the storm intensified, but rescue crews still dealt with a handful of accidents as Friday night wore on.

A driver was trapped in an overturned car on snow-slicked Route 8 in North Belgrade late Friday afternoon.

The driver, whose name was not available, was pinned in the overturned car on Route 8, McGrath Pond Road, and Jaws of Life from Oakland rescue had to be used.

There was no other information available on the single car accident.

NWS meteorologist Tom Hawley said the storm is expected to be among the worst in the region in the last few years.

“This is a fairly important storm for this winter. Any time there is a foot and a half or more of snow that is not your average run-of-the-mill storm. It’s not like anything we’ve seen regularly,” he said.

Gov. Paul LePage signed an emergency declaration extending the hours of service for utility crew workers and allowing additional crews from Canada to assist with repairs if the number of power outages makes it necessary.

Central Maine Power spokesman John Carroll said the company has a storm response plan ready. CMP has asked workers to report to field offices at 5 a.m. Saturday with their bags packed, he said.

“High winds are always a concern, and the moisture content of the snow can make a bigger difference than the overall snowfall. We expect deep snow on the roads and tough working conditions, so we’re getting crews, equipment, and materials in place to respond,” he said.

In Somerset County, emergency management and 911 center director Michael Smith said plans were in place to set up storm shelters and that they were busy monitoring the storm’s progress with the help of the Maine Emergency Management Agency. 

“One thing that is good about this storm is the timing. On a Friday night and Saturday morning not a lot of people have to be out for a particular reason, so there should be less traffic,” he said.

Smith reminded those who have to drive to keep sleeping bags and water in their car and to drive with a full tank of gas.

“There is not a huge difference in how we are preparing for this storm than how we prepared for Hurricane Sandy or how we prepare for other winter storms,” Smith said.

(Continued on page 2)

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