Just as power had been restored to most of the nearly 800,000 customers who lost it in the ice storm days before Christmas in Michigan and Maine, Maine was bracing for another snowstorm.
It could bring additional snow-related power outages Sunday night and Monday to parts of New England. "That is a concern," said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. "We are expecting 6 to 12 inches of snow across parts of Maine and New Hampshire, Sunday night into Monday morning. It looks like at least part of the snow is going to be packed and clinging, not super dry and powdery like they often see. There is a risk of the added weight causing more tree limbs and power lines to come down."
Sosnowski said that system will also bring snow to portions of New Brunswick, Canada. "There's also going to be some wind," he said. "It's not going to be a powerful Nor'easter, but it will strengthen as it moves up the coast Sunday night. It could add stress to weakened trees and power lines."
Across Maine, about 2,660 customers were without power Sunday afternoon, down from about 127,000 at the peak of the ice storm that hit parts of northern New England.
Susan Faloon, spokeswoman for Bangor Hydro Electric, said the utility is "gearing up" for another storm.
"What we're doing, in addition to continuing with restorations, is we've brought in more out of state crews who were working with Central Maine Power, and we've brought crews down from New Brunswick. In addition, we're not releasing any of our existing crews. There is so much damage, even if we were able to get everybody back on by the end of today, which is unlikely, there's so much damage that we're certain to see new outages," she said. "I don't think we'll see the number of outages we saw earlier this week, but it's hard to say. We need to be prepared for the worst."
About 1,800 Bangor Hydro Electric customers were still without power Sunday afternoon, down from a peak of about 40,000. Central Maine Power said it had about 860 customers without power Sunday afternoon, down from 87,000.
In Michigan, power had been restored to all but about 4,000 customers of the 666,000 who lost it when an ice storm hit the state more than a week ago. Michigan authorities blamed at least five deaths on the storm, three killed in crashes and two killed by carbon monoxide fumes from emergency generators.
About 3,300 Lansing Board of Water & Light customers were still without power Sunday, down from 40,000. Some of those customers held a rally Saturday outside Glencairn Elementary School in East Lansing to protest delays in restoring power.
About 600 DTE Energy customers were without power Sunday, down from 210,000, a spokeswoman said. CMS Energy said that "essentially all" of its 416,000 affected customers were back online.
Sosnowski says residents of Michigan and most of the upper Midwest to the Northern Plains can expect "bitterly cold air" Sunday night into Monday.
Further west, from the Northern Rockies to parts of the Midwest, a series of weak storms sometimes called Alberta Clippers will bring a swath of light snow from the Dakotas to lower Michigan, northern Ohio and northwest Pennsylvania just in time for New Year's Eve Tuesday into New Year's Day. "It will stick to roads and make for slippery travel," Sosnowski said. "There could be de-icing delays at airports within the swath."
By Thursday, another weak Alberta Clipper is expected to merge with a weak storm from the Gulf of Mexico. Depending on when those two systems come together, they could produce either a fairly insignificant snowfall or a major snowstorm reaching from the Interstate 95 area of the Mid-Atlantic region up through New England, covering New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., Sosnowski said.
Contributing: Associated Press, Lindsay VanHulle and John Bacon
Michigan: 4,000 Maine: 2,660
Outages at peak:
Michigan: 666,000 Maine: 127,000