GRAY — Word of a late-week storm has been swirling around for days, but it wasn't until 3:20 p.m. on New Year's Day that the National Weather Service pulled the Midcoast into the mix. It had been forecast that the persistent cold snap would keep the storm at bay, but that has since changed, schools remained closed or closed early Thursday and at 3:44 p.m., a blizzard warning was issued.
The blizzard warning includes a wind chill warning through 1 p.m. Friday and includes coastal areas of Lincoln and Knox counties, up through Belfast in Waldo County. The blizzard warning is in effect through 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 3.
The forecast calls for wind chill values as low as minus 37 Thursday night through Friday morning.
Accumulations now of 6 to 10 inches are predicted along the coast, with light but persistent snow continuing through early Friday morning.
Winds will be northeast at 15 to 25 mph, with gusts up to 40 mph and temperatures between minus 12 and 7 above zero. Visibilities at times will be 1/4-mile or less.
State and county offices and many businesses have opted to close early and late-day and evening events are being canceled as the day wears on, temperatures drop and winds pick up.
A blizzard warning means that severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring, including falling and blowing snow with strong winds and poor visibilities likely. This will lead to whiteout conditions, making travel dangerous and not recommended. If you must travel, have a winter survival kit with you, including an extra flashlight, fresh batteries, food and water. If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle.
A wind chill advisory means the combination of very cold air and gusty winds will create dangerously low wind chill values. This will result in frost bite or lead to hypothermia if precautions are not taken. If you must go outside, dress in layers and keep all your skin and your head covered. Protect livestock from the cold, ensure access to fresh water and bring pets inside.