Jan. 22—A storm that could bring up to 10 inches of heavy snow, poor road conditions and power outages crossed into Maine Sunday night and is expected to last all day Monday.
Winds will increase Monday, reaching up to 35 mph at the coast, raising the risk of power outages, said meteorologist Jon Palmer at the National Weather Service's Gray station.
"We're expecting some pretty decent storm," Palmer said.
Central Maine Power is closely monitoring the storm with most trees and power lines still coated in last week's snowfall. A new round of wet snow and strong winds will only increase the risk of electricity loss, CMP spokesman Jon Breed said Sunday in a prepared statement.
CMP has secured extra storm response crews to restore power if outages happen, Breed said.
Palmer said the snow's intensity could vary throughout the day. Monday will see moderate snowfall most of the day with some periods of heavy snow. By the time the storm is done, much of Maine could see up to 10 inches.
Several southern Maine school districts, including Biddeford, Brunswick, and Sanford canceled classes early.
Gov. Janet Mills also announced Sunday that all state offices will be closed Monday.
A number of towns instituted parking bans including Freeport, Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Saco, and Old Orchard Beach.
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court and the Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland will also be closed Monday due to the storm.
The snow is expected to make travel difficult not only Monday morning but throughout the day and into the evening. The Maine Emergency Management Agency is urging people who don't have to be on the roads to avoid traveling.
The Maine Turnpike Authority lowered the speed limit on the turnpike to 45 mph around 8 p.m. Sunday due to snowy conditions.
During one recent storm, there were 30 crashes on the turnpike caused by motorists driving too fast, said Maine State Police Lt. Lucas Hare, who oversees the highway.
With additional storms forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, "we'd like to get the message out to minimize crashes," he said. Crashes jeopardize motorists, first responders and people out of their vehicles helping stranded motorists.
Motorists are frequently driving 70 mph despite the speed limit being lowered to 45 mph, Hare said. Troopers who are out of their vehicles trying to help people on the side of the highway are often experiencing vehicles flying by them inches away.
If someone must drive during a storm, plan that the commute will take an extra half hour or even an extra hour, Hare said.
Another problem police are seeing is drivers following too closely to the vehicle in front of them.
"It's slippery and someone tries to stop, and the car behind them can't react, causing crashes," Hare said.
If someone has vehicle trouble, police recommend getting to the far right of the road and avoiding the median strip, which is more dangerous because of faster-moving traffic.
CMP echoed calls for slowing down. During Friday's storm, a quarter of outages happened because of vehicles crashing into utility poles, Breed said.
CMP has a checklist of how to prepare before a storm at cmp.com.
Winter enthusiasts are delighted about snow on the ground and more on the way.
"We're very excited," said Travis Dow, assistant general manager at Lost Valley Ski Area in Auburn.
Friday's storm was "a huge shot in the arm," he said. "With the fresh snow, it brings all the skiers out. A lot of people haven't skied in a while."
New snow falling on Sunday, Monday and next week would allow Lost Valley to open additional trails, Dow said, as well as the Maine Family Snow Tube Park on Saturday.
Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this story