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Snow that began falling overnight will continue until Wednesday evening, potentially covering the southern Maine with half a foot of accumulation and prompting a handful of schools to close.

While Bangor public schools are in session, around two dozen other schools and districts have called off classes in anticipation of slick roadways and restricted visibility. A slew of courts, government buildings and businesses also have closed.

[Get the latest closings, cancellations and delays]

The gentle snowfall is moving in from the southwest toward the northeast, painting a diagonal gradient of accumulation that will coat Maine’s southern regions — especially in the southwest — with the heaviest amounts, and could spare the northwestern part of the state any snow at all, according to the National Weather Service.

“It’s not like it was during that blizzard,” said Vic Nouhan, a forecaster for the weather service in Gray, calling attention to the relatively mild precipitation, and referring to a Jan. 4 storm that blasted the state with heavy snow and whiteout conditions. Rather than being propelled by high winds, Wednesday’s snow is caused by a wedge of cold air moving beneath a warmer air mass, causing condensation, he said.

In Portland, where over 3 inches had already fallen by 8:30 a.m., the range of visibility was half a mile Wednesday morning. “During the blizzard, you couldn’t see 10 feet in front of you,” said Tom Hawley, a weather service forecaster in Gray.

Still, the weather service has posted a winter storm warning for portions south central and southwestern Maine, where the heaviest snow is expected. A less severe winter weather advisory is posted for central and southern Penobscot, Hancock, southern Washington, and southern Piscataquis counties.

Late Tuesday night, the Maine Turnpike Authority reduced speeds on the highway from the New Hampshire border to Augusta to 45 mph.

Flurries were detected in Bangor before daybreak, but the snow is predicted to pick up strength by late morning before letting up around dusk. About 5 to 7 inches is predicted to fall on the city, the same amount that’s expected along the Down East and midcoast, Nouhan said.

Farther south, around the Portland area, the snow started falling last night, according to Hawley. An additional inch could fall there — Portland is expected to see up to 8 inches — as the snow moves diagonally from west to east, he said. The snow should stop between 3 and 5 p.m. in the southern counties.

“The farter north and west you go, the less there is,” Hawley said, noting that far-west Fryeburg is expected to get 5 inches, where centrally-located Augusta is on track to receive about 7 inches.

The precipitation will start to drop off along the line stretching from Millinocket to Houlton, where around 3 to 4 inches is expected, Nouhan said.

Milder temperatures will accompany Wednesday’s snow, ranging in the low-20s in the north, and high-20s to low-30s in the south, he said. The high in Bangor Wednesday is predicted at 28 degrees.

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Callie Ferguson

Callie Ferguson is an investigative reporter for the Bangor Daily News. She writes about criminal justice, police and housing.