- Associated Press - Monday, January 26, 2015

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Maine residents were busy Monday preparing for a winter storm with high winds that could drop as much as 2 feet of snow in some areas and make traveling treacherous. Here’s what they need to know about the storm:

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SNOW, SNOW AND MORE SNOW

Parts of southern Maine could get up to 2 feet of snow, along with wind gusts up to 50 mph and frigid temperatures. Residents in the south could see 12 to 18 inches Tuesday and small bands of intense snowfall could increase those totals in localized areas, said meteorologist Mike Kistner of the National Weather Service in Gray. Temperatures will remain in the teens while winds carrying light snow will dramatically reduce visibility, making for hazardous driving conditions. The heaviest snow is expected to fall Tuesday from daybreak until early afternoon. A blizzard warning was issued for central and coastal Maine. Northern Maine could see 8 to 12 inches and wind gusts up to 30 mph, forecasters said.

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POWER OUTAGES

Utility companies warned that the combination of heavy snow and strong gusts could bring down trees and power lines, causing outages. Emera Maine said it was fueling trucks, lining up extra customer service helpers and preparing storm kits for its crews before the snow began to fall. Central Maine Power also was preparing to deploy its forces and finalizing storm-response plans. The company said it has contract crews on alert that they may need to assist if there’s widespread damage.

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READY - BUT NOT WORRIED

People anticipating being stuck inside for the next couple of days spent Monday stocking up groceries, filling up their cars with gas and running last-minute errands.

At the Hannaford Supermarket in Augusta, Heather Gluck was buying water, cat and dog food, candles and batteries - just in case. But she said she wasn’t really concerned about the storm. The Augusta resident, who spent several years in Virginia, said “we handle the snow a whole lot better up here.”

After picking up some groceries, Bobbi Berry was heading back to her Whitefield home to make sure she has enough wood in her garage. The retired teacher expected to be stuck inside all day Tuesday and possibly Wednesday, but the life-long Maine resident said she’s used to it. She planned to bide the time by tackling a 2,000-piece puzzle.

“If I have to do it by candlelight tonight, I will,” she said.

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TRAVEL WOES

All flights scheduled to depart from the Portland International Jetport on Tuesday were canceled, a spokesman said. Some Tuesday evening arrivals are still scheduled but officials say the airlines are monitoring them. All Tuesday flights out of Bangor International Airport also were canceled, as well as most Monday evening departures. The Amtrak Downeaster train, which runs between Brunswick, Maine, and Boston will also be shut down on Tuesday. Maine’s Department of Transportation is asking residents to limit driving to emergency vehicles and essential travel only. Department spokesman Ted Talbot said the state doesn’t impose travel bans or close Interstate 95, but it is recommending that everyone except emergency vehicles stay off the roads unless it’s essential to drive.

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CLOSINGS

Dozens of Maine schools and businesses will be closed Tuesday, including public schools in Bangor, Biddeford, Falmouth and Saco. The U.S. District Court in both Portland and Bangor will be closed. The Maine House and Senate canceled its work for Tuesday and all legislative offices will be closed.

Several cities and towns, including Portland, Lewiston and Auburn, have put in place parking bans. Portland’s citywide ban begins Monday at 10 p.m. and runs through 6 a.m. Wednesday.

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Whittle reported from Portland.


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