GRAY, Maine — Keep those shovels within reach and the snowblowers fueled because another weekend storm is descending on the state.
Just as much of Maine has begun to dig out from the latest bout of snow, a storm system brewing off the coast has much of New England and Maine under a winter storm warning, with coastal counties under a blizzard watch starting noon Saturday through 7 a.m. Monday.
The National Weather Service predicts that southern Maine and the Down East region will see the most snowfall, with a staggering 24 inches accumulating Saturday into Sunday evening. The storm can be expected to start late Saturday and early Sunday inland and Down East.
Snowfall will recede as the storm moves inland, but not by much. Bangor can expect up to 18 inches of snow. The County also will get a dose, with 18 inches in Houlton and 8 to 12 inches expected in the St. John Valley.
With the snow piling up from recent storms, Bangor is on its way to one of the snowiest years on record, according to the weather service in Caribou. To date, 96.9 inches have fallen and if Bangor gets another 17 plus, this winter would be among the top five snowiest on record.
Caribou is not far behind Bangor at 94.5 inches, slightly above average but nothing out of the ordinary, the weather service said.
Like with previous storms, the winds will be strong. The weather service’s Gray office said winds along the coast will average 35 mph, with gusts as high as 40 to 50 mph. Inland the winds will slow to an average of 25 mph, with gusts between 30 to 40 mph. This could lead to whiteout conditions, making traveling hazardous at best.
Expect temperatures to not get far above zero this weekend. But from the coast to inland regions, temperatures won’t get much higher than the low teens, with a high of 12 in Bangor and a high of 4 in Caribou, which could lead to wind chills dropping far below zero.
The weather service in Caribou urged people to exercise caution when traveling and if possible to minimize travel. With low temperatures and high winds, frostbite and hypothermia are major threats to anyone stranded on the roadways. So it may be a good day to catch up on chores indoors.
While the storm isn’t expected to affect high school basketball tournament action, the University of Maine hockey team’s game on Saturday has been pushed back.
The Black Bears and Merrimack College, originally scheduled to play the second game of their weekend series at 7 p.m. Saturday in North Andover, Massachusetts, will drop the puck at 4. That contest is one of three Hockey East games moved up Saturday in an attempt to beat the storm.
The UMaine women’s basketball team is scheduled to play Stony Brook University at the Cross Insurance Center on Sunday afternoon, and as of Friday evening, that game was still on.
Power companies are preparing for the worst.
“We’ve put our storm response plan into motion,” Central Maine Power spokeswoman Gail Rice said. “The snow is expected to be dry and less likely to coat tree limbs and wires, so high winds and slippery roads are likely to be the primary cause of any outages.”
Customers are urged to keep battery-operated flashlights and radios handy in case of a power outage, along with a supply of drinking water and nonperishable foods. Mobile devices should be fully charged and fuel tanks of vehicles filled. Customers with generators are urged to follow manufacturers’ suggestions.
To report an outage, call CMP at 800-696-1000.
In addition, Emera Maine’s storm response team is preparing for the storm, adding both internal and external staff and resources to address potential power outages.
Customers can assist with restoration efforts by making sure driveways and side roads are plowed and accessible for crews, and stay clear of fallen power lines