Winter storm could dump an inch of snow an hour over parts of Maine

A major winter storm developing in the Northeast had already caused delays to begin at airports in New Jersey and New York City by Sunday afternoon, but many Mainers seemed to be taking the winter weather predictions in stride.

But that could change as soon as the first flakes are spotted falling from the sky, according to one hardware store manager.

Ryan Case, a manager at Calais Ace Home Center, said that other than selling “a bunch of salt” on Sunday morning, there hadn’t been a run yet on shovels, snow rakes and other winter necessities.

“I would 100 percent say we’re not in panic mode yet,” he said. “Usually, though, we don’t get into that mode until the actual storm starts.”

The storm will be caused by a complex low-pressure system moving out of the Midwest and Great Lakes on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Forecasters said that snow is likely to begin in southern New Hampshire on Sunday evening, with heavy snow — as much as an inch an hour — likely into early Monday morning. Snowfall is expected to decrease in intensity during the day on Monday, but another round of heavier snow could follow Monday night into Tuesday. That round would primarily affect the coastal plain in Maine, the weather service said.

“Due to the long duration nature of this winter storm, storm total snowfall amounts will be hard to forecast and hard to measure. However, the prolonged period of snow will lead to wintry driving conditions lasting into Tuesday,” a weather service advisory read.

A winter storm watch issued for much of southern and midcoast Maine by the weather service indicated that total snow accumulation up to 6 or more inches is possible late Sunday night through Tuesday, with gusty winds also possible Tuesday. Heavy snow could make travel difficult, and could affect the morning and evening commutes, according to the service.

Events were already being postponed ahead of the storm on Saturday. A Maine Department of Education Student Cabinet meeting, which brings students together from across the state and which was scheduled for Monday, has been postponed until Jan. 24. A roundtable with hemp farmers organized by U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, slated to take place on Monday at the Sheepscot General Store in Whitefield, has been postponed until later in December.

Victor Nouhan, a Caribou-based meteorologist with the weather service, said that northern portions of the state wouldn’t be hit as hard by the storm.

“And the timing of this storm is going to be later — for us, it looks like a later Monday night into Tuesday event,” he said. “Based on what we have right now, it looks like more of a moderate snow event. Not what I would say ‘high end.’ Nothing like some of the prior storms we’ve had already this season.”

But about 200 miles to the south, some Mainers were starting to get ready. Christina Musser, the front-end supervisor at Damariscotta Hardware, said that snow-related business has been picking up.

“We have been busy — I’m looking at a person right now buying a shovel,” she said. “I just had to pick up 150 pounds of rock salt. That wasn’t that much fun. And tube sand, that stuff is pretty much like lifting a dead body.”

In Belfast, a Home Supply employee said Sunday morning that the store is fully stocked with storm-related supplies, but that shoppers weren’t snapping them up yet.

“People are closely watching it,” Joann, who didn’t want to share her last name, said of the storm. “But either they’re prepared, or they’re not awake yet, or they’re in church. We haven’t hit panic mode yet, but we’re ready for panic.”