Storm Blankets Washington County in Snow, Ice

Up to a half inch of ice layered the region after Sunday’s storm. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

The first major storm of the year arrived on Sunday, January 20th, bringing over a foot of snow to the interior of the state and covering the region in ice. While the coastal regions, including Calais, received less snow, the prediction for up to half an inch of ice was met in some areas. The combination of snow and thick ice resulted in a battle of endurance on Monday as residents labored to free their vehicles and open their doors.

Virtually all events planned for Sunday – and some for Saturday – were canceled in anticipation of the storm. On Sunday itself, the wide majority of businesses in Calais were closed, including McDonald’s and Tim Horton’s, while some opened for short shifts to help fuel the efforts of the snow removal crews.

By early midday on Sunday, the snow turned to a steady flow of sleet that could be heard throughout the neighborhoods hammering onto metal roofs and vehicles. While sleet is often accompanied by warmer temperatures, it remained frigid throughout the day, culminating in an uncommonly thick layer of rigid ice.

Monday morning saw the bulk of the cleanup efforts. Some businesses remained closed as a result of the storm, while others – including schools – were closed already in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Commuters without a garage to protect their vehicles had no option but to spend hours chipping away at the ice crust that covered every inch of available space on their cars.

In downtown Calais, shop owner John Dudley of Katahdin Coffee House described attempting to break through the ice crust in front of his shop by employing 15 pounds of salt and his own body weight. The arrival of the city cleanup crew sped up his work considerably – and spared his lower back for the future, he shared.

 

The enduring cold temperatures on Monday didn’t stop volunteers from patrolling their neighborhoods, lending a hand where they could. Baileyville once again mustered a crew of young volunteers to help clear the snow, under the guidance of Police Chief Bob Fitzsimmons. The youths, who included Noah, Nate, Conner, Jayshawn and Raeghan, per Fitzsimmons, were treated to pizza and video games for their efforts.