FORT KENT, Maine — Forget blue chip or tech stocks. A smart investment this season would have been a snow shovel concession.
Another storm system brewing off the coast has much of New England under a winter storm warning, with coastal Maine counties under a blizzard warning starting at noon Saturday through 7 a.m. Monday.
“For southern Maine and Down East, things start to ramp up overnight and move to the north,” according to Maureen Hastings, forecaster at the National Weather Services office in Caribou. “We are still expecting the highest snowfall accumulations across the south and Down East.”
As of Saturday morning, areas of southern and coastal Maine into Washington County are looking at 12- to 24-inches of snow with this storm, with higher amounts possible along the coast, according to Hastings.
The snow is expected to be dry and fluffy, Hastings said, but when combined with high winds could create real problems in the impacted areas.
Winds are expected out of the north at 30 to 35 mph inland with gusts up to 55 and 60 mph along the coast, Hastings said.
“This light, powdery snow is going to blow all over,” she said. “Travel will be difficult through tonight and during the storm due to blowing and drifting snow with visibility near zero.”
Bangor could get 18 inches of snow with this storm.
Farther to the north the winds could gust to 40 or 45 mph, and snowfall totals are forecast to range from 18 inches in Houlton to up to a foot in parts of the St. John Valley.
Things will not warm up over the weekend, according to Hastings, who said temperatures in northern Maine will dip to 10 degrees below zero and may climb to zero during the day Sunday.
Bangor and southern Maine can expect daytime temperatures between 10 and 15 degrees on Sunday.
With the expected snowfall, towns and cities across the region are implementing parking bans, including Portland’s citywide parking ban in effect starting at 10 p.m. Saturday through 6 a.m. Monday.
The Bangor Police Department took a light hearted approach to the coming storm, posting a Valentine’s Day message on its Facebook page Saturday advising residents to stock up on necessities, use common sense with generators and candles, keep shovels handy, check on elderly friends and neighbors and “just plan on laying low.”
The state’s power companies are gearing up for the storm, with plans to add extra crews in the event of power outages.
“We’ve put our storm response plan into motion,” Central Maine Power spokeswoman Gail Rice said Friday. “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.
As Emera Maine’s storm response team is preparing for the storm, adding internal and external staff and resources to address potential power outages, crews were dispatched to determine the cause of an outage about 10 a.m. affecting more than 1,300 customers in Glenburn and Kenduskeag, according to a press release.
Power was restored to all customers by 1 p.m, Bob Potts, spokesman for Emera, said Saturday afternoon. The outage was caused by an equipment failure.
Emera warned customers using alternate heat sources to use caution and follow manufacturer guidelines. Those using generators were reminded to keep them well ventilated and be sure they are properly installed so they do not back-feed into the electrical system.
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. If Bangor gets another 18 plus inches, this winter would be among the top five snowiest on record.
“These are the tracks the storms have been taking,” Hastings said. “The jet stream has dipped pretty far south, and this dome of cold air over northern Maine is forcing the storm tracks farther south. Down East and southern Maine have been in the bull’s-eye.”
Flights into and out of the Portland Jetport and Bangor International Airport after 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday morning were canceled, according to information posted on their websites.
By 4:30 p.m. Saturday more than 250 cancellations had been listed on the Bangor Daily News website. About half were church-related events or worship services. Several services were moved from Sunday to Saturday.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland on Friday urges priests and parishioners “to exercise caution and prudence when making the decision to travel to Masses on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.” Canceled Masses will be listed on portlanddiocese.org.
BDN writer Judy Harrison contributed to this report.
Watch bangordailynews.com for updates.