Snowstorm leaves 250K in dark in Maine

A springtime snowstorm creates challenging driving conditions Thursday, April 9, 2020, in Freeport, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A late-season storm dumped heavy, wet snow across Maine, knocking out power to more than a quarter-million homes and businesses at the peak Friday. Customers were warned it could be a long haul to get the lights back on.

The toppled trees and power lines only added to the misery for tens of thousands of Mainers told to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

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 in a statement.

The storm left a foot or more of snow overnight 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 53,000 Emera Maine customers were without electricity, officials said.

Central Maine Power warned customers that it would be a prolonged outage for many, and it asked them to respect social distancing and avoid approaching utility crews.

“For the safety of our crews we are practicing social distancing in the field and on work sites. We ask that the public not approach our crews in the field,” the utility tweeted.

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.

The snow began Thursday afternoon and was winding down by midday Friday, Tubbs said. It will be followed by strong wind gusts that could hamper power restoration, he said.

Much of the snow will quickly melt in the southern part of the state with temperatures climbing into the 40s, he said.