BANGOR, Maine — A ridge of high pressure idling through Maine over the weekend brought record temperatures to the northern half of the state.
The thermometer read 82 degrees in Caribou on Saturday, annihilating the 1988 record of 58 degrees. The normal early April temperature in Caribou is 41 degrees, according to meteorologist Mark Bloomer of the National Weather Service in Caribou.
“It’s just exceptional,” Bloomer said Sunday, when the temperature in Caribou had moderated to a toasty 73 degrees. “We have never seen temperatures this warm this early.”
In Bangor, Sunday was the warmer day. The daytime high of 76 degrees melted the 1967 record of 62 degrees, Bloomer said, and was a whopping 29 degrees above the average April 4 temperature of 47 degrees.
Temperatures throughout the state will become more seasonable this week, he said, but will reach the low 60s in the Bangor area for at least the next few days.
In addition to making for a sweet Easter weekend for egg hunts and other holiday activities, the warm temperatures brought winter-weary Mainers outside in droves.
In Orono, college students lugged sofas and futons outside and basked in the sun. Spontaneous games of Frisbee and Whiffleball broke out on lawns. In the late afternoon, the tantalizing scent of barbecue filled the air.
Area parks and playgrounds teemed with children and families. At Bangor’s Chapin Park youngsters on bikes, trikes and scooters zipped along the asphalt paths. Parents pushed babies in strollers and toddlers took uncertain steps through the greening grass.
The greens were a bit tender at Penobscot Valley Country Club, but that didn’t stop an estimated 125 players from teeing up.
“That’s probably a record for April 3,” said head golf professional John Murray on Saturday. “We rolled and mowed the greens yesterday; we usually don’t do that until the middle of May.”
Because the whole spring season has been unusually mild this year, Penobscot Valley opened its golf course this year on March 12.
“That’s the earliest anyone here can remember opening in decades,” Murray said.
Farther south along Route 2 in Veazie on Saturday, fire crews tended a controlled burn along the tracks of PanAm Railways. State Forest Ranger Jerry Parsons said the burning was necessary to reduce the likelihood of accidental fires igniting dried vegetation from seasons past. Most trackside fires start when sparks fly from sooty locomotive smokestacks or worn brake shoes, he said.
“This year, we’ve had eight [accidental] fires so far along this stretch of track,” he said. In 2008, fire crews battled 18 brush fires along the tracks between Bangor and the Veazie town line, he said.
In addition to getting rid of dead grass, bamboolike weeds and other “flashy fuel,” the fire crews on Saturday cut off the lower limbs of some red pines near the tracks and burned them in a pile to reduce the fire hazard.
Crews from Veazie and Holden participated in the mile-long controlled burn, along with independent firefighters from the Penobscot Valley Hotshots and PanAm Railways employees.
Also hard at work Saturday was a crew of a half-dozen middle-age guys vigorously raking away leaves and winter debris from the lawn of Black Bear Academy in Bangor.
“Any remotely good weekend this time of year, we work,” said Dennis Bowden of the D.A. Bowden landscaping business in Bangor. Bowden said everyone on his crew has another job but enjoys the chance to earn a little extra cash working outside. The youngest crew member is 37 years old; most are in their 50s, he said.
“It’s hard to find young people to do this work,” Bowden said, watching the rakers clear the grass and gardens of the private preschool center. “It’s hard to do it on a bad [weather] day, and kids don’t want to do it on a good day.”