Gov. John E. Baldacci has declared a state of emergency in anticipation of a severe winter storm that is expected to produce heavy snow, high winds and blizzard conditions.

Baldacci has also directed that state government for non-essential personnel be closed on Monday, Dec. 27. Emergency and essential personnel will be on duty.

“The National Weather Service is warning of extremely dangerous conditions,” Baldacci said in a press release late Sunday afternoon. “The best advice is to avoid all unnecessary travel, to stay off the roads and allow road crews and emergency responders to do their work.”

Baldacci spoke Sunday to the staff of the state Emergency Management Agency, which is monitoring the storm and will coordinate the state’s response to the severe weather..

The state of emergency will allow the state and MEMA to utilize the resources necessary to respond to the storm and protect public health and safety.

The NWS has posted blizzard and winter storm warnings statewide. Coastal flooding is also possible later Sunday night for Portland and other coastal areas. The storm is expected to intensify overnight, and dangerous conditions will continue into the late afternoon and evening Monday.

MEMA and the NWS forecast offices in Gray and Caribou are urging Mainers and visitors to stay off the roads, pay close attention to weather warnings and stay safe.

MEMA advises the following safety precautions.

• Stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. Strong winds, low visibility, and blowing and drifting snow will all make for extremely dangerous, life-threatening whiteout conditions. The fewer vehicles that are on the road, the easier it will be for snowplows to operate.

• Pay attention. Stay tuned-in to local sources of weather information to stay up to date on the latest predictions for the storm. Up-to-date weather warnings are also posted online at maineprepares.com

• If there is a power loss, use emergency generators and alternate heat sources safely. Carbon monoxide kills. Remember to keep outside vents for heaters and stoves clear of snow, as clogged vents may also pose carbon monoxide dangers.

• Check on neighbors and friends who may not be as well prepared.

• When encountering a downed power line, stay away from it and notify the electric utility.

• In areas that are vulnerable to coastal flooding, stay aware of any local conditions and cooperate with any local road closures or other emergency measures.

Special safety message about carbon monoxide poisoning follows.

• Warning signs of CO poisoning are flu-like symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness and confusion, but without a fever.

• If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected,

— Leave the house at once.
— Call 911.
— Get medical attention. Call the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 or your doctor after you leave the house.
— Stay out of the building until the fire department deems it is safe.

For more information on storm safety and preparedness, visit maineprepares.com.