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Blizzard Pummels Southern Maine With Unrelenting Snow, Wind

Nora Flaherty

A blizzard warning remains in effect for Down East, Maine, where wind gusts of up to 60 miles an hour have been reported.  Heavy snow continues for much of the state, but both the winds and the snow are expected to taper off by early Wednesday morning.  

With accumulations of two feet or more expected in some parts of southern Maine, plow trucks were busy all day long. And so were utility crews.  A spokeswoman for Emera Maine said strong winds were making it difficult for workers to get in bucket trucks to restore power along the coast, where several hundred customers were without power.  

Early Tuesday afternoon, Central Maine Power had about 1,200 customers in the dark.  But CMP spokeswoman Gail Rice says they weren't without power long.

"We had a number of customers in Lincoln County, and Waldoboro and Bremen, who were out due to a couple sections of wire coming down in that part of the world," she says, "and our crews were able to put that back together and those customers are back up.  And our numbers, as of 4:00 o'clock, are down to about 151 customers."

Rice says the biggest challenge for CMP crews was getting to the trouble spots because travel was so difficult.  Even rugged meteorologists who live for these kind of occasions had slow going Tuesday morning. Tom Hawley is with National Weather Service in Gray.

"I had to come in this morning to work and it was - my 45-minute drive was about an hour and 40 minutes," he says. "So it was very tough driving this morning."

Blowing and drifting snow with near whiteout conditions made travel dangerous, but no major accidents have been reported.  Steve McCausland, of the Maine Department of Public Safety, says most motorists appeared to have heeded state and local officials warnings to avoid driving if at all possible.  That advice continues through Tuesday night.

"Traffic is very light on the roads.  It's giving plow crews a chance to battle the storm," he says. "There have been a few slide-offs on the Interstate and the turnpike but the numbers are very few."

State offices, schools and many businesses were closed for the day.  Flights into and out of the Bangor International Airport and Portland Jetport were canceled.  It's unclear when scheduled flights will resume.  A spokesman at BIA says that could happen late Wednesday morning.  At the Portland Jetport, ticket counters will open Wednesday morning but operations are likely to remain affected by the weather.

It's also unclear when  Maine State Ferry Service will resume. Downeaster train service between Brunswick and Boston will run normally on Wednesday, unless otherwise announced.