This winter storm will throw about everything it can at us from high gusts to heavy rain to arctic air to flash freezes and floods.
Heavy rain and gusty winds makes for a miserable walk for a man during a winter storm on Feb. 27, 2019, in Portland. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

A severe winter storm blowing into Maine will throw everything it can at us starting Friday.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for much of the interior from the New Hampshire border to Bangor over to Calais early Friday through early Saturday, while a coastal flood watch is in effect for the Down East coast. A high wind watch and high wind warning are in effect for the whole state.

During the storm, Maine can expect to see high winds, heavy rain, a precipitous drop in temperatures, flash freezing, flash flooding and even a little snow. The storm is part of a larger system being driven by cold air descending upon the U.S. from Canada. It will grip much of the country east of the Rockies and may build into a bomb cyclone, according to the Associated Press.

“We are strongly urging all Maine people to prepare for this major storm,” Gov. Janet Mills said Thursday. “Please take every precaution to protect yourself, exercise caution when traveling, and check on your family, friends, and neighbors. We want to ensure that all Maine people stay safe during this holiday weekend.”

In Greater Bangor, those winds are currently forecast to blow as high as 55 to 60 mph, while they could hit as high as 70 mph on Mount Desert Island. Elsewhere along the Down East coast, from Machias to Eastport, gusts are expected to reach 60 to 65 mph, according to the weather service office in Caribou.

Up to The County, the winds are still expected to hit hard, with gusts up to 55 to 60 mph expected from Houlton to Van Buren and 50 to 55 mph around Fort Kent.

Along the southern coast and midcoast, winds will hit as high as 55 to 60 mph from Portland to Belfast, according to the weather service office in Gray.

Further inland toward the western border with Canada those winds will be relatively weaker, with gusts forecast to only hit as high as 45 to 55 mph in Jackman, the weather station reported.

“Damaging winds will blow down trees and powerlines. Numerous to widespread power outages are likely. Travel will be difficult, especially for high profile vehicles,” the weather service cautioned in an advisory.

Accompanying those potentially damaging winds will be heavy rain. That rainfall is expected to total 1.5 to 2 inches across much of eastern Maine from Bangor to Eastport up to Lincoln and Patten, according to the weather station in Caribou.

Meanwhile, 1 to 1.5 inches are forecast for much of The County from Houlton to Fort Kent, while less than an inch is called for near Van Buren.

The heaviest rainfall is currently expected over the central highlands from Greenville to Katahdin and the southern coast, where 2 to 3 inches are forecast, as well as the western mountains from Bridgton to Rangeley, where 3 to 4 inches are expected, according to the weather station in Gray.

“This Heavy Rain falling on Snowpack will cause flooding issues,” the weather service office in Caribou warned.

That rainfall combined with a steep overnight drop in temperatures could cause flash freezing on untreated surfaces. Bangor alone could see temperatures fall, over a 12-hour period, from the 50s to the 20s or lower.

Warming centers are opening in several Maine counties, and Mainers can call 211 or visit maine.gov/mema/response-recovery/mass-care to find locations, according to the Maine Emergency Management Agency.