Just in time for the first day of spring, a winter storm is bearing down on New Hampshire and New England and could bring another foot or more of snowfall to an already-high seasonal total.
Michael Kistner, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine, said he expects snow to begin just after midnight Monday and continue throughout the day and evening on Tuesday.
"By mid-morning we should have 1 to 3 inches on the ground and snowfall will pretty much be light to moderate all day," he said. "We should see a pickup in the late afternoon, so the evening commute will be an issue for most."
Hillsborough County is expected to get as much as 16 inches of snow by the end of the storm. Nearly all of Maine is expected to receive 10 to 14 inches of snow by Wednesday, with some higher amounts predicted for the western mountains and slightly lower amounts projected for the eastern coast.
Portland already has seen twice as much snow this season as last. The average seasonal snowfall total is 61.9 inches.
Even before the current storm, the 2012-13 season was the third snowiest in the last 10 years, with 88.2 inches on the ground so far. Only 2007-08, with 103 inches, and 2004-05, at 102.1 inches, saw more, but Kistner said Tuesday's storm, coupled with another potential storm on Thursday, likely will put this season on top.
The record of 141.5 inches in 1970-71 is likely safe, Kistner said, but a couple more storms could easily put this season into the top 10, dating back to 1881.
This winter has been marked by a handful of powerful storms that have produced copious snowfall amounts, as opposed to several smaller storms. The biggest storm came in early February when parts of Maine saw more than 30 inches of snow from a single, slow-moving storm.
Kistner said the high totals have more to do with timing than with changes in meteorological patterns.
"In years with lower amounts, these storms stay to our south or blow out to sea," he said. "But when the patterns are just right, we see a lot. And these patterns can be tough to break."
Todd Foisy, a meteorologist with the NWS in Caribou, said this winter has been much harder on southern Maine than other parts of the state. Bangor has seen 63.6 inches so far, which is slightly above average, but Caribou's total of 90.5 inches is below average for this point in the season.
(c)2013 the Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine)