Blizzard to cripple parts of Maine Tuesday into Wednesday

Parts of the region to get crushed

Winter storm warnings continue for the entire state and blizzard warnings are active for Cumberland and York Counties as intensifying low pressure moves into the state today. Heavy snow falling at 2-4″+ per hour in combination with gusty winds as high as 55 mph are likely to make roads impassable at times this afternoon into the wee hours of Wednesday. Power outages from heavy wet snow (for the MidCoast and DownEast areas especially) are possible.

Get to your destination by afternoon

For anyone out and about today due to work, appointments or last minute preparations should wrap it up by early afternoon for southern areas and mid-afternoon for the Bangor region. By evening, the southern two-thirds of the state will be dealing with blizzard or near blizzard conditions that will last into the early hours of Wednesday.

Wind on the north and east side of the storm with gusts as high as 55 mph (higher offshore) will cause whiteout conditions and blowing and drifting of snow. Along with heavy bands dropping snow at 2-4″+ an hour, this is likely to paralyze plow crews for a time as it could be impossible to keep up.

Storm track key to outcome

The path of the system appears to cut across the south shore of Massachusetts into the Gulf of Maine. From there, it hugs close to the southwest coast before making landfall between Wiscasset and Rockland in the wee hours of Wednesday. Given the history with a similar system that brought the 30+ inches to York County and surrounding areas back in January, the west side of the storm is likely to have the heaviest outcome. As the storm makes landfall, a coastal front forms on the east side which will bring a brief period of rain, freezing rain and or sleet. Since the east side is the warm side, this will likely knock snow totals down a bit, but the changeover comes late in the storm.

Storm ends Wednesday… for most

The heaviest snow ends for southern areas before midnight and for northern areas by the wee hours of Wednesday. The storm will weaken as it heads into northern Maine by mid-morning. While it will take some time for plow crews to recover given the volume of snow, the morning commute on the major arteries should be slow, but passable.

By Wednesday afternoon, wrap around snow showers appear to filter into the region, mostly for the mountains and far northwestern Aroostook county. This may bring another 1-3″ to those areas between 2 PM Wednesday to 8 AM Thursday. I can’t rule out a snow shower or two for the rest of state, along with a breeze that may cover up roadways and cause slick spots overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning.

Updated Snowfall Totals

As mentioned in Monday’s update there is a healthy amount of moisture to work with here. Taking that into consideration, along with storm track and recent history, I think there is a case that can be made that the southwestern corridor could see two feet or more in areas away from the shorelines. It would not surprise me to see reports of 30″ come from the southwestern area. Any mix with this storm is likely to come late in the event, although a brief period of sleet is possible for the southwest coast. I expect that, if it occurs, to be short lived. This is predominantly a snow event, and a very heavy one at that for most of the state.

Bust potential remains the same as I mentioned in the previous update. A track closer to the southwest coast could bring in a coastal front which may bring a brief period of rain or mix. Warmer air at the upper level may bring a period of sleet. A track further east changes the dynamic for fluffier snow for the southwest coast, which may add to the total. Dry slotting may also play a factor which may knock totals down.

There is still some wiggle room here, and as always the chance for surprise. However, I do have high confidence that this will be how most areas will total out. Blowing and drifting of snow may make accurate measurements a challenge closer to the coast.

More Snow On The Way This Weekend

Make sure your clean-ups are done well. As it appears now another 6-12″ is possible for the southern two-thirds of the state starting Saturday afternoon and ending Sunday afternoon. This is still early, but it is safe bet that the plows and shovels are likely needed over the weekend.

Stay tuned.

-Mike Haggett

For official forecast information: please check in with National Weather Service Gray for Western & Southern Maine and National Weather Service Caribou for Eastern & Northern Maine.

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Special thanks to Tropical Tidbits and Pivotal Weather for their written permission to use their graphics in this post. Use of WeatherTAP images used within their written permitted terms of media use policy. Additional forecast information supplied by the National Weather Service, WeatherBELL Analytics and AccuWeather Professional.

Always Stay Weather Aware!

Mike Haggett

About Mike Haggett

As a Mainer for nearly five decades, Mike understands all too well the ever changing weather forecasts and surprises given the location and geography of the state. Spending much of his time as child outdoors fishing in all four seasons, keeping track of the weather was a must for personal safety. Living firsthand through the impacts of weather through many types of storms and phenomena, the idea came to mind for him to analyze it closer in 2011.