December 2, 2013

Wintry weather causes accidents in Augusta-Waterville area Sunday

Light snowfall throughout the day Sunday contributed to a number of accidents. Rain is expected later in the week.

By Rachel Ohm rohm@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Snowfall in Central Maine was minimal on Sunday, but slippery driving conditions were a factor in a number of accidents, including a report of a multi-vehicle crash north of Waterville that closed Interstate 95, according to authorities.

click image to enlarge

Staff photo by David Leaming HAZARDOUS DRIVING: Anthony Pinnette, left, and his brother Nathan shoveled snow into a pile so they could drive their remote control vehicles through and over the snow on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. Area road conditions were also tricky for drivers with a few accidents caused by the slippery conditions.

click image to enlarge

Staff photo by David Leaming WINTER WALK: Candice Hinckley and her dog Marx went for a walk on a snow covered trail in Waterville as snow fell most of the day on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013.

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Throughout the day, the heavy, wet snow fell around the region, and although there was little accumulation, the weather is expected to be a precursor to more winter weather later this week, according to a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.

No major accidents were reported in the area during the day Sunday, but slippery conditions and slushy snow were a factor in a number of smaller collisions.

In Fairfield, three single-vehicle accidents, including two roll-overs and one accident in which a car hit a tree, were reported before 10 a.m. Sunday, said Sgt. Paul St. Amand of the Fairfield Police Department.

All three accidents were caused by the weather, said St. Amand, who cautioned people against driving too fast on slippery roads. Two of the three vehicles were heavily damaged, although there were no injuries reported, he said.

“Definitely if it’s snowing or raining near the freezing mark, it’s a good idea to slow down in order to arrive safely. The main thing is to get the speeds down,” said St. Amand.

He said that a majority of cars that end up off the road in weather conditions are four-wheel drive vehicles.

“People have a false sense of security and think they can go faster when unfortunately they can’t stop any faster,” he said.

On Interstate 95 near Palmyra, about six accidents or vehicles off the road were reported around 4 p.m., according to a state Department of Public Safety dispatcher. Radio reports said conditions on the road were not good, although there did not appear to be any serious injuries.

In Augusta, police responded to a half-dozen accidents early Sunday on the ice-slickened roads. Sgt. Christopher Shaw said none of the people involved required transport to the hospital.

One pickup slid off Eastern Avenue at 9:43 a.m. Sunday, striking a single-family home owned by Kenneth Cady, 45.

Shaw said the driver of the Ford F-150, Cody Grasse, 21, of Windsor, lost control in the icy conditions. While no one was injured, Shaw said the investigating officer reported that the building at 759 Eastern Avenue had significant damage.

He said it appeared the driver was traveling too fast for road conditions.

“I hope people drive with due regard for the weather and understand they have to take more time,” Shaw said.

Snow showers continued on and off through the morning on Sunday, but the temperature was expected to rise to the mid-30s and any snow would change to rain, according to weather.com.

The Waterville area was expected to get as much as three inches of snowfall accumulation by Monday morning, according to a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. Rain is expected later in the week, said Eric Schwibs, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gray.

Sunday was the first day of meteorological winter, which runs from Dec. 1 through the end of February, he said. In the astronomical calendar, winter does not begin until Dec.21, but the meteorological season is considered the coldest three-month period of the year in the northern hemisphere, said Schwibs.

Most of Sunday’s weather activity was concentrated near the coast, with the western mountains of the state getting little to no snow, said Schwibs. Monday is expected to be a calm day weather-wise, but there is potential for a mid-week storm arising from a coastal low that will likely bring precipitation to coastal Maine, Schwibs said.

“It’s a couple days away, so people will have to keep an eye on it, especially if you are traveling to Bangor or points east. Potentials may exist for a storm,” said Schwibs.

Staff writer Betty Adams contributed to this report.

Rachel Ohm— 612-2368rohm@centralmaine.com

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