Gusty winds blow snow, cause deep freeze in Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Strong winds blew newly fallen snow in Maine on Friday, making roads slick, shuttering some schools and businesses and leaving much of the state in a deep freeze. And it’s just going to get colder.

Maine was spared from the brunt of the storm that dumped up to a foot of snow in the Midwest before moving East, but residents suffered from sub-zero temperatures with wind chills registering 35 degrees below zero in some places and little relief in sight.

Temperatures could reach 30 degrees below or colder in some western Maine valleys Friday night, while central and southern Maine will see readings dip to between minus-10 and minus-15 before gradually warming up by Saturday afternoon into the 20s, said meteorologist Chris Legro.

“That’s going to feel like a significant change for a lot of people out there,” he said.

David Wheelock searched for his keys where he dropped them in the snow outside his son’s copy and printing shop in Hallowell, where it dipped to minus-8 degrees Friday morning.

The 73-year-old lifelong Maine resident has lived through his fair share of brutal winters and wasn’t too fazed by the bitter cold, he said. But it can get dangerous quickly if people aren’t prepared for the worst with backup heat sources at home, jumper cables, extra clothes in the car and other winter gear, he said.

“I don’t always rely on someone else to come bail me out,” he said.

Maine health officials warned residents to avoid spending time outdoors, but when outside, to wear appropriate clothing and cover faces and mouths with scarves because dangerously-cold temperatures could cause frostbite and hypothermia.

Snow quickly moved out of Maine on Friday afternoon, and total accumulations fell short of what forecasters predicted, especially in the north, Legro said. Six to 10 inches fell in southern Maine, including Portland, causing some businesses and schools to close their doors Friday.

But the light, dry snow meant that even low wind speeds produced significant drifting. Slick tracks may have caused a freight-train to derail at a railroad crossing in Saco, snarling traffic but causing no injuries, police said. The Portland Press Herald reported the engine was pulling only one car.

Gusty winds prompted worries about power outages, where some residents just recently got their power back after an ice storm brought down trees and power lines nearly two weeks ago. But utility companies reported only roughly 100 outages Friday afternoon.

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