There are many residents in Maine who are still without power a week after the worst ice storm in nearly 20 years hit the state just days before Christmas. It is likely that most of these people will be forced to contend with continued outages as another storm looms on the horizon.
Maine has long been known for its cold and snowy winters. Due to year round precipitation, the “Pine Tree State” has been able to boast an amazing ability for its forests to regenerate without aid, allowing the land to be dominated by hearty trees of all stages of growth. However, this blessing also comes with a dark side in the form of frequent, heavy snowfall that often buries residents under blankets of white powder.
Most of the time the well-seasoned Mainers are more than equipped to deal with the winter weather. On occasion, Mother Nature sees fit to conjure up storms that prove to be more than just inconveniences. This winter season has seen such an occasion as last week’s three day ice storm left around 123,000 homes and businesses across the state without power.
Despite the fact that a week has passed since the storm hit and repair crews have worked around the clock this entire time to fix the damage, thousands remain without power. Projections for restorations have gone into the new year and many are worried that the impending storm estimated to hit on Sunday will only make matters worse.
Last week’s storm left everything covered in ice. Signs, fences, power lines, posts and plants alike continue to glitter in the sun in a spectacular display of beauty that also signifies hardships that many in Maine have had to cope with for days. Hoards of utility trucks descended upon the state as workers from several states, and even Canada, toiled through shifts as long as 17 hours during Christmas week to restore power to those without.
It has been as slow and painstaking process as repairing the number of power lines that have succumbed to ice and snapped trees has proven to be an arduous task.
The unusually low temperatures of the past week have only served to complicate the matter further. It has only been in the last two days that temperatures have reached into the low 30s with the rest of the week seeing temperatures that hovered mostly in the teens. This cold snap has made ice removal impossible and roads have remained slippery thanks to both the cold and an extra dusting of snow on Thursday.
This ice storm was the third storm in December to produce significant precipitation and there have been multiple other storms with less notable accumulation. The temperature has steadfastly remained low, dipping as far down as negative 11 degrees and creeping up to highs in the low 30s for only a handful of days out of the entire month.
It doesn’t appear that this hard-hitting winter has run its course just yet, either, because another storm looms in the forecasts and is expected to come through on Sunday, starting with gentle snowfall in the morning before dropping another 5-8 inches throughout the night and into Monday morning. For the 5,000 Maine residents who are still without power, this news is not welcome. Couple that with the estimated low of negative nine degrees on Monday night and the situation begins to take on far more worrisome tones for many Mainers.
Even after power is restored to all who are without, there will still be the property damage to contend with. Frozen pipes will continue to create even more work for residents who are already overwhelmed by finding ways to keep warm and clear out the compacted ice and snow. Maine’s beautiful trees are adding to the mess as they bow, bend and snap under the weight of their icy coatings. Some have reported that as many as 20 percent of the trees on their property have needed to be removed because of damage sustained to them. This will certainly be made more difficult if the several inches of snow predicted is delivered.
Maine is not the only area struggling to dig themselves out of this winter’s weather offerings while facing another storm as it looms ominously in the near future. The ice storm has affected much of the Northeast and power outages have been reported as far away as Michigan and even into Canada. All told, nearly a half a million people were without power thanks to the ice and cold. Like Maine, more cold and snow is predicted for these areas in the coming few days.
By Vanessa Blanchard