March 19, 2013

Snowfall steady in central Maine

By Rachel Ohm
Staff Writer

Steady snowfall is blanketing central Maine and is expected to dump 10 to 14 inches of snow on the region today and more snow is forecast later this week.

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Tim Campbell shovels snow at the State House complex on Tuesday in Augusta. He was part of the Bureau of General Services crew clearing sidewalks and lots.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: Ralph Norton gets at least one more day of winter to make money shoveling sidewalks and porches as he and his snow shovel trudge along Main Street in Waterville on a snowy Tuesday. Wednesday is the first day of spring, but forecasts are calling for more snow this week.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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"There haven't been any changes in the forecast," Eric Schwibs, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said Tuesday. "This is going to be a long drawn-out event."

In addition to the Tuesday storm, there is potential for another 4 to 8 inches of snow on the second day of spring on Thursday, said Mike Kistner, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gray.

"It is definitely different than last year when we were all out golfing and going to the beach," said Kistner. The two storms predicted for this week are more in line with normal weather patterns for March and should add to the area's seasonal snowfall levels, he said.

Ethan Austin, spokesman for the Sugarloaf ski resort, said this season has been great. Already, Sugarloaf is about 25 percent ahead of last year in lift ticket sales and 30 percent ahead in revenue. He said the goal every year is to keep trails open until May.

"It's looking good. I don't think people are sick of winter yet," he said.

Darcy Morse, spokeswoman for the Sunday River ski area, said any big storm is good for the ski business. She said this season's storms have been particularly well-timed.

Sunday River is about 20,000 skier visits ahead of last year's pace, she said, and last year was the resort's second strongest financial season on record.

On Monday, public works crews, schools and local businesses prepared for the worst. Workers at the John Charest Public Works facility in Augusta were bracing for the storm by checking equipment and loading salt into trucks, said Street Superintendent Jerry Dostie.

Dostie said it has been an average year for road maintenance crews in the Augusta area, and they are on track to spend the amount of money expected for the year.

"Obviously we wish it was rain, but overall it looks like a normal winter," he said. Equipment usage and overtime pay for workers were at normal amounts, he said.

The intensity of the storm should pick up around midafternoon Tuesday with snow continuing until around 2 or 3 a.m. Wednesday in areas including Waterville, Augusta, Skowhegan and Farmington, Kistner said.

Most places will receive around a foot of snow, but there could be spots that get more, he said.

Temperatures will be in the mid- to upper 20s with lows in the upper teens at night, said Kistner. Conditions should improve Wednesday, he said, but it will still be chilly with temperatures in the low to mid-30s.

"The conditions right now are just right for one storm after another, and it is not unusual for March to see such an active weather pattern," he said.

Workers at Central Maine Power were also preparing for the storm, said spokeswoman Gail Rice on Monday.

The area has seen a few storm-related power outages this winter but damage has mostly been kept to a minimum because of tree-trimming along power lines, she said.

"We are treating this like any other storm and have advised crews to be alert and ready in case of a problem," said Rice. She said trucks were fueled and staffing levels checked on Monday in preparation.

Meanwhile, schools and local businesses also prepared for the predicted storm.

Ken Coville, superintendent for Anson-based School Administrative District 74, said he usually tries to decide the night before a storm is predicted whether school will be open the next day. However, recent forecasts have resulted in storms that veered off course, he said.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Though it was only a couple days before the official start of spring, Waterville Public Works employee Dan Wilson washes off dirt from one of the city snowplow trucks on Monday. Plows likely will be out in force Tuesday as a significant snowstorm is forecast to dump up to a foot of snow.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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Racing before the impending snowstorm forecast for Tuesday, Donald Grivois, front, and Kelly Danaher rakes old leaves and debris from a lawn on Sherwin Street in Waterville on Monday. "We are just trying to clean up before the storm," Danaher said.

Staff photo by David Leaming


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