By Dave Sherwood

BRUNSWICK Maine (Reuters) - A rare early season snowstorm brought 50-miles-per-hour (80-kph) winds and record-breaking snowfall to parts of Maine overnight, leaving more than 140,000 homes and businesses without power on Monday.

Governor Paul LePage declared a limited state of emergency as slippery driving conditions, downed trees and white-out conditions led to a spike in accidents and shut down many local roads.

The massive, "nor’easter" storm dropped snow as far south as South Carolina, with snowflakes flying in coastal Charleston following a string of days over 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27C).

National Weather Service meteorologists reported the heaviest snowfall in northern Maine and along the state’s northeastern coast, shattering records for earliest double-digit snowfall totals in Bangor, which received 12 inches (30 cm), and Caribou, with 10.1 inches (25.67 centimeters).

The small town of Cary, Maine, along the Canadian border in northeastern corner of the state received a record-breaking 21 inches (53 centimeters).

Along the southern Maine coast, which was slammed with snow, wind and 10 foot (3 meter) seas, meteorologist Tom Hawley said some towns had yet to see a frost, and many trees were still laden with leaves.

"They just couldn't handle the snow load. That heavy wet snow on top of branches and leaves plus a stiff 40 mile per hour (64 kph) wind meant lots of power outages,” he said.

In Houlton, Maine, near the center of the storm, public works director Chris Stewart said snowplow crews were out all night.

"It was real hard to move, like pushing cement," he said. "I hope this isn’t a sign of what's to come this winter."


(Editing by Scott Malone and Alden Bentley)