Winter won’t let go: Caribou, Bangor poised for lowest March average temperatures

Posted March 31, 2014, at 4:29 p.m.
Last modified March 31, 2014, at 7:40 p.m.

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As of Monday, 42.1 inches of snow had fallen in Caribou in March, making it the third-biggest snowfall on record, according to the National Weather Service. At the northern Aroostook County home of Julia Bayly, her dog Corky sits on top of a seven-foot-tall snow bank created from snow cleared from the driveway.
Julia Bayly
As of Monday, 42.1 inches of snow had fallen in Caribou in March, making it the third-biggest snowfall on record, according to the National Weather Service. At the northern Aroostook County home of Julia Bayly, her dog Corky sits on top of a seven-foot-tall snow bank created from snow cleared from the driveway. Buy Photo
Snow is deep in the north Maine woods. An attempt at grooming her trails by BDN reporter Julia Bayly earlier this month ended with a very stuck snowmobile after the machine slid off the trail into the soft snow.
Julia Bayly
Snow is deep in the north Maine woods. An attempt at grooming her trails by BDN reporter Julia Bayly earlier this month ended with a very stuck snowmobile after the machine slid off the trail into the soft snow.

FORT KENT, Maine — Winter is enjoying an extended stay in parts of Maine, with Caribou set to record its lowest average temperature for March and Bangor poised to do the same as the month comes to an end, according to the National Weather Service.

“Caribou will end up with the coldest March on record,” Cory Bogel, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Caribou, said Monday. “We won’t know about Bangor until we record the high for [Monday].”

As long as the high temperature in Bangor remains below 37 degrees, Bogel said, it will be the coldest March on record, beating the previous mark set in 1939 when the average temperature was 22.7 degrees.

By 3 p.m. Monday, the high in Bangor was at 34 degrees, he said. The average temperature in the city for March was 22.4 degrees. In Bangor, there have been six nights in March with temperatures below zero, the most since 1948.

As of Sunday, Bogel said, the average temperature in Caribou was 14.6 degrees. Caribou recorded 14 nights of below-zero temperatures in the month, the coldest since 1939, Bogel said. The 1939 average was 15.3 degrees. So far this season, he added, there have been 55 nights of subzero temperatures, the most since the 2002-03 season.

For Caribou to not hit the March record, he said, the highs on Monday would have to rise above 40 degrees. He added that was not going to happen.

“That cold March has allowed us to maintain this snowpack,” Bogel said. “We’ve had a fair amount of systems develop along the East Coast and pick up moisture as they work their way up.”

Snow has been especially plentiful in Aroostook County.

“Certainly across northern Maine, there is an unusually high snowpack for this time of year,” Bogel said. “Usually by the second half of March, we see the snowpack begin to diminish and melt as we get rain and not snow events.”

In fact, Sunday’s 8-10 inches of snow in northern Maine brought the March snowfall total to 42.1 inches in Caribou, making it the third-biggest March snowfall on record behind 45.2 inches in 2008 and 47.1 inches in 1955.

“Bangor was not so impressive,” Bogel said. “They have gotten 15.7 inches for the month [and] 78.9 inches for the whole season.”

While those amounts put Bangor 16 inches above normal for seasonal snowfall, Bogel said overall it does not come close to breaking any seasonal snow records.

Up north, however, with less than 12 hours left in March, Bogel said Caribou was on the way to its eighth-biggest season snowfall on record.

Snowfall amounts in southern Maine are a bit above normal, Bogel said, but not to the extent seen in the central and northern parts of the state.

It also appears the northern Maine snowpack is not going anywhere soon, he added.

“The long range [forecast] for the first half of April looks to be temperatures near or below normal,” he said. “We are not seeing any major, prolonged warm-ups.”

River watchers around the state are keeping their eyes on the spring warm-ups and snowmelt given the flooding potential on Maine’s waterways. Comparisons have been drawn between this year and the record snowfall year of 2008, which produced record flooding in northern Maine.

“The flooding in 2008 was after a lot of snow but also a lot of rain,” Lynette Miller, Maine Emergency Management Agency spokesperson, said in an email last week. “Ice jam flooding is always a particular concern because it can’t be forecast, [and] monitoring ice conditions closely, especially where there are known jams in place, is the only course of action.”

Officials are also keeping close tabs on the piers supporting the new and old international bridges across the St. John River in Fort Kent and any impact they may have on creating ice jams.

“There is always potential for flooding, [and] we are always concerned and always vigilant,” Darren Woods, Aroostook emergency management director, said last week. “The scenario we don’t want is rapid, sustained warm-ups and rain, [and] in the short term, anyway, it does not appear that will happen.”

 

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