An ocean storm backing into northern New England on Saturday planned to stick around through the weekend, bringing bursts of heavy snow to Maine and to the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire.

Most storms in the area come from the south, push their way northeast and strengthen as they get to the Gulf of Maine, said meteorologist David Glenn in Gray, Maine, about 15 miles north of Portland.

"This storm is actually strengthening off to our east and slowing migrating to the west and southwest," he said. "So it's a different storm movement and it's a longer duration event than what we typically see."

Light snow was falling across much of region and was expected to increase in intensity by Saturday night. The wind was expected to strengthen, gusting up to 45 mph and causing blowing and drifting snow. Coastal areas were seeing higher tides than normal. Minor flooding was reported in York, Saco, Portland and Kennebunk, Maine, and in Hampton, N.H.

Some cars slid off roads, but there was little traffic and no major accidents in Maine as of Saturday afternoon, said Steve McCausland, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety.

"A lot of people are just hunkered down," he said.

By Sunday night, when the worst is expected to be over, the White and Green Mountains could see up to 18 inches of snow. Portland was forecast for anywhere from 8 to 15 inches, and Concord, N.H., could get 6 inches to a foot.

At the Wildcat Mountain ski resort near Mount Washington, more trails were opening up Saturday. "We're finally getting something here to work with," said Thomas Prindle, director of marketing and sales. "We were challenged initially during the starting part of the holiday week with rain." The resort has received about 18 inches of snow in the past week, with more to come, Prindle said.

The storm is expected to leave the Northeast on Monday, with a few lingering snow showers in the mountains throughout most of the week and seasonable temperatures.