Third Nor’easter In 2 Weeks Buries Maine In Heavy Snow

Mar 13, 2018

The third nor’easter to hit Maine in the last couple weeks is dumping 12 to 18 inches across much of the state - and more in some areas - with far northern Maine getting most of its snowfall Tuesday night and Wednesday.

The storm has knocked out power to thousands.  As of 5:30 Wednesday morning, Central Maine Power Company reported about 1,300 outages, and Emera Maine, which services areas farther north, had about 2,000 homes and businesses in the dark.

Most early morning flights at Portland Jetport are canceled again today, but officials say later flights will resume.  At Bangor International Airport, most flights are expected to operate today.

On the roads, Concord Trailways has canceled a 7 a.m. departure from Bangor and a coastal run will be four hours late today.  Greyhound says its service resumes at noon. The Amtrak Downeaster canceled the first round trip of the day, but others are expected to operate.

The storm disrupted plans for student walkouts at several Maine schools, aimed at pushing ahead efforts for tighter gun laws.  At some schools, the events were postponed for later in the week, while others were considering going ahead with the walkouts.

John Cannon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, says March is generally an “active” month for storms, but this frequency is unusual.

“Quickly moving in one after another, and that is rare,” he says.

The storm is expected to bring about 18 inches of snow to the coast, which is still dealing with the damage from the last two storms, including beach erosion. York Police and Public Safety Chief Douglas Bracy says the coast lost between four and six feet of beachfront, and huge waves, flood-stage high tides and snow from the last storms have ripped up the coastal infrastructure.

“We have a tremendous amount of damage that we’ve sustained over the last really two weeks. That includes sidewalk damage, seawall damage, road damage,” he says.

A plow truck clears snow Tuesday morning on I-295 in Portland.
Credit Irwin Gratz / Maine Public

Bracy says it’s going to be hard to get the beach back in shape before tourist season starts on Memorial Day weekend at the end of May.

“We’ll do a cleaning process on the beach in the spring,” he says. “It may not be the whole beach.”

Bracy says so far, repair efforts have been repeatedly frustrated by more storms.

There’s no scheduled air service into or out of the Portland Jetport Tuesday. Most flights into and out of Bangor International Airport are also canceled, as are intercity buses.

The Amtrak Downeaster canceled southbound runs Tuesday afternoon.

Maine Department of Transportation spokesman Ted Talbot says reduced visibility made it hard for road crews to keep up with the storm. Talbot says about 350 plow trucks have been deployed across the state.

“It is a very tough, tight storm, at least it’s not quite as pasty, tight snow as it was the last one and it’s certainly not an ice event, it’s an all snow event. We’ll be plowing and we’ll be doing it through the duration,” he says.

Talbot is urging people to stay off the roads if they can.

Interstate 295 in Portland on Tuesday.
Credit Irwin Gratz / Maine Public

For Drew Dow, who operates a small snow removal business in Brunswick with his cousin, the back-to-back storms have been keeping him busy. Dow says, after a few winters with not a lot of snow on the midcoast, “it’s nice to have a real winter.”

“Pulls me out of hibernation,” he says.

Maine Department of Labor Economist Glenn Mills says, overall, he doesn’t think these storms have as much impact on Maine as some might think.

“We’re more used to it. We have all the snow plows, businesses closing for a day or part of a day, as we’re doing shortly,” he says. “But, by and large, you know, the storms last for a day or two and then they’re over and we move on. So I don’t think it’s as much of an economic impact as is often characterized in the national news about the major metropolitan areas.”

Steady snow is expected to continue falling in northern Maine into Wednesday night as the storm backs in from the ocean.

“Overall the widespread accumulating snow should be tapering off, you know, some time around noon tomorrow in Down East-Bangor region and more toward early Thursday morning across the north,” says National Weather Service Meteorologist Donny Dumont in Caribou.

Forecasters say there’s also a very good chance of another nor’easter next week.