A blizzard swept across the state Monday, leaving more than a foot of fresh snow in some areas and creating near whiteout conditions through much of Christmas day.

Swirling snow and strong winds pushed northward through the morning and afternoon making holiday travel difficult. But by late afternoon the sun had emerged in the southern counties and the harsh winter weather was beginning to pass out of the state, leaving scattered snow showers and gusts in northern Maine.

The National Weather Service’s lifted its blizzard warning for southern and central Maine at 3 p.m., but the northern part of the state was to remain under a winter storm warning until 7 p.m.

Forecasters advised that after the storm passed, blowing snow drifts could still make travel difficult in northern and Down East Maine.

Speed limits on the Maine Turnpike were reduced to 45 miles per hour Monday morning. Most flights in and out of the airports in Portland and Bangor were on schedule, as of 5 p.m. Monday.

Lewiston and Auburn were among the locations hit hardest by the Christmas blizzard. The two cities and neighboring region received more than a foot of snow, according to the National Weather Service.

In Bangor, 8.7 inches had piled up at the airport by late afternoon and accumulation was possible into the early evening, the National Weather Service said. The service measured 3.9 inches of snow in Caribou around 4:15 p.m.

In parts of southern and central Maine snowfall ranged from 5 inches, recorded at the Portland International Jetport, to one foot in Buxton.

In northern Maine, the storm had the potential to leave a record-breaking Christmas snowfall. The blizzard appeared poised to compete with Bangor’s snowiest Christmas since record-keeping began in 1925, which came in 1938 when the city got 9.2 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service.

Through the morning, strong winds kicked aloft snow in southern and coastal Maine, turning distant objects into gray smudges and reducing nearby car headlights into faint glowing points. In Bangor, the blowing snow cut visibility to a quarter mile around noon, according to the National Weather Service.

Wind gusts reached speeds of up to 50 mph along the immediate coast and blew as fast as 35 to 40 mph inland, Pohl said.

The National Weather Service said that the sky will likely clear overnight, with the sun emerging Tuesday before an intense cold front descends on Maine for the rest of the week.

BDN writer Christopher Burns contributed to this report.

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