- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 24, 2009

PORTLAND, Maine

A winter storm blew through northern New England on Monday, dumping 2 feet of snow in spots, forcing hundreds of schools to cancel classes and leaving tens of thousands of homes and businesses without power.

More than 140,000 utility customers in Maine remained without electricity Monday afternoon as wet, heavy snow snapped tree limbs, power lines and utility poles overnight.

The Maine Emergency Management Agency said about 10 warming shelters have been set up across the state. Some residents who lack power should prepare for the possibility that it might not be restored until Wednesday, said Bangor Hydro Electric.

Lows for early Tuesday are forecast to be in the single digits in northern Maine and about 20 degrees in the south, the National Weather Service said.

Gov. John Baldacci declared a state of emergency, extending the hours that power crews can work to restore electricity. Mr. Baldacci, who was in Washington attending a National Governors Association conference, decided to return to Maine on Monday afternoon.

Central Maine Power and Bangor Hydro Electric are getting help from out-of-state utilities, which have sent line crews to help restore service.

Heavy snow fell across most of Maine through Monday morning, with some places reporting rates of 3 to 4 inches per hour.

In Vermont, driving snow covered roads and forced the closure of northbound Interstate 89 between Waterbury and Richmond for two hours Monday because of accidents, the Vermont State Police said.

Several thousand customers in eastern New Hampshire also lost power, but most had their lights back on by afternoon.

The snow resulted in hundreds of schools canceling classes for the day in Maine on what was supposed to be the first day back after a weeklong vacation. The storm caused some school closings in Vermont and New Hampshire, but many were already closed for vacation.

The deepest snowfall was in the northern Maine town of Milo, which received 28 inches, according to the Weather Service. Other impressive amounts included 26 inches in Farmington and 25 inches in Bridgton, both in Maine. New Durham, N.H., reported 17 inches of snowfall.

In Milo, Tom Haley said the pile of plowed and shoveled snow outside Bailey Lumber Co. grew to 30 feet tall. Most people took the storm in stride, he said.

“It took just as long to shovel it out as the last time - and we’re still waiting for spring,” he said during a break from work. “We’ve had enough.”

Ski-area operators were mostly thrilled with the latest storm. But the storm wasn’t all good news at the Sugarbush ski area in Warren, Vt., which has received 56 inches of snow since Thursday. High winds forced it to close its lifts. But the forecast for the rest of the week is ideal, said spokesman JJ Toland.

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