Editor’s note: This article was adapted from a special weather edition that the Bangor Daily News published on Jan. 12, 2006.
On Dec. 30, 1962, Bangor was hit with 25.5 inches of snow in a single day, the highest daily tally in the history of climate records in Maine at the time.
The forecast had been for “occasional snow or flurries,” leaving residents utterly unprepared for the onslaught. Then the thermometer dropped 16 degrees in a single hour, and the flakes began to fall.
A pregnant woman went into labor during the storm, tied on her boots, and walked several blocks to the hospital before giving birth. Another mother and her six children were rescued from their Dixmont home by a soldier on a snowmobile.
Plows traveled from more than a hundred miles away to help clear away the 20-foot drifts of new snow.
Snowstorms are a fact of life in Maine, regardless of small climate shifts, but in this case, there may be something to parents’ arguments that their childhood was far colder, snowier, and more onerous than that of their offspring.
More snow fell [in Bangor] in 1962 than in any year before or since. The years from 1951 to 1972, clearly a cold, stormy phase in Maine’s history, were tied to a shift in the atmospheric system that is responsible for much of Maine’s weather, a pattern known as the North Atlantic Oscillation, state climatologist Greg Zielinski said.
Recent years have had mild weather because of the behavior of the North Atlantic Oscillation, but scientists predict the pattern could switch back to stormy cold weather in the near future.