PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A spring storm packing heavy, wet snow knocked out power for quarter-million homes and businesses Friday in Maine, adding to the misery of people now forced to stay at home during the pandemic.
Tens of thousands of residents faced the prospect of being stuck in homes without lights, cable TV or high-speed internet overnight - and some for as long as a couple of days, Central Maine Power said.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills closed state offices because of the storm and urged people not to leave their homes.
“I thank all Maine people for rising to the new challenge of a spring snowstorm in the middle of a pandemic by staying at home and traveling only when absolutely necessary so our first responders and road crews can work safely,” the governor said Friday in a statement.
The storm left a foot or more of snow on parts of the state, and the heavy snow caused trees and tree limbs to snap, said Hunter Tubbs from the National Weather Service.
“The sheer weight of the snow is enough to bring down a lot of trees and power lines,” he said.
All of northern New England experienced snow. But the power failures were mostly in Maine, where about 200,000 Central Maine Power customers were in the dark and another 60,000 Emera Maine customers were without electricity, officials said.
By late afternoon, the numbers hadn’t changed dramatically, and Central Maine Power warned customers that it would be a prolonged outage for many. The utility also asked customer to respect social distancing and avoid approaching utility crews.
“In light of the pandemic we are making sure all medical and critical care facilities have power and we will work as quickly and safely as we can to restore power for all,” said Doug Herling, president and CEO of CMP.
The heaviest snow began Thursday afternoon and the storm wrapped up with flurries on Friday. Tubbs said. But it will be followed by strong wind gusts that could hamper power restoration, he said.
Snow tallies included 21 inches in East Blanchard; 20 inches in Madrid; 17 inches in Ashland; 18 inches in Carmel; 13 inches in Union; and 14 inches in Hartford, according to the National Weather Service.
“This storm will go into our memory banks and remembered in the years ahead,” Mike Haggett wrote on his Pine Tree Weather website.
Much of the snow will quickly melt in the southern part of the state with temperatures climbing into the 40s, he said.
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