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Snow sends cars skidding off roadways

CARIBOU, Maine — Snow wreaked havoc on drivers across northern and coastal Maine Wednesday, with more than seven inches of snow recorded in some parts of Aroostook County by the afternoon.

Janet Crowley, a Houlton resident, said she was “shocked” by how slippery the roads were when she went to work just after 8 a.m.

“I pulled out of my driveway and nearly spun in a circle on a patch of ice,” she said. “I drove 20 miles per hour all the way to work and I still had a hard time.

Police reported numerous accidents and cars off the road in Hodgdon, Houlton, Littleton, Presque Isle, Caribou and in the St. John Valley.

Nearly 50 vehicles slipped off the road across much of coastal Maine and in Greater Bangor during some of the first snow of the season, according to Maine State Police.

Some of the most common troubles spots included Routes 17 and 32 in Lincoln and Knox counties, Route 9 in Hancock and Washington counties and along Interstate 95 between Etna and the Old Town area, state police spokesman Stephen McCausland wrote in an email.

Most cars slipped off the road because drivers were going too fast for the conditions, he said. As of 9:30 a.m., no severe injuries were reported. In most cases, vehicles sustained minor damage.

A moderate to heavy snow band was located over U.S. Route 1 and the northern end of Interstate 95 just after noon, according to the weather service.

Mark Bloomer, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Caribou, said Wednesday afternoon that 7 inches of snow had been recorded in Sherman by 2 p.m., followed by 6.5 inches in nearby Patten. Rangeley had received 5.3 inches, while Bridgewater and Cary in Aroostook and Topsfield in Washington County picked up 3 inches. The 2” inches of snow recorded in Caribou Wednesday broke the previous record for this date in 1981 of 1.3 inches, according to the NWS.

Snow was expected to continue through Wednesday, with little additional accumulations.

Snow began falling at about 7 a.m. in the Houlton area, and roughly two inches had fallen by 11:30 a.m. The weather service indicated the community might get up to 5 inches by the time the storm ends early Thursday morning.

Karen Cummings of Houlton said Wednesday that she canceled a planned trip to Presque Isle due to the snowfall.

“I don’t have my snow tires on yet, and I don’t trust people during the first storm of the year,” she said. “Even people who have lived in the state all of their lives seem to forget how to drive.”

Thursday and Friday are expected to be dry, but temperatures will be lower than normal for late October.

NWS Meteorologist Todd Foisy said on Monday that the earliest Aroostook County has ever seen snow was on Sept. 29, 1991. Snow in October is not abnormal, he said, with some falling “between 20 and 30 times” since record keeping began in 1929.

Foisy said that the average date for snow to fall in The County is on Oct. 26.

The most snow ever recorded in October fell in the Caribou area in 1963, when 9.4 inches was recorded. The second highest total, 7.6 inches, fell in 1959 in the Caribou area.

Writers Eesha Pendharkar and Judy Harrison of the Bangor Daily News contributed to this report.

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