January 20, 2018
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‘Bitter’ cold front to preserve nearly record-setting snow from Christmas storm

By Callie Ferguson
Updated:

An intense cold front is expected to move into the state Tuesday evening and last until the weekend.

Temperatures Tuesday, inland and along the coast, won’t climb above 10 degrees, and overnight in Greater Bangor they could plunge to as low as 5 below zero, forecasters said.

“Each day from now until Friday will get a little bit colder,” Andy Pohl, a forecaster at the National Weather Service’s Gray office, said Tuesday morning. “But Thursday will be the apex of the cold air,” when single-digit daytime temperatures will drop as low as 15 degrees below zero by nightfall.

The “bitter cold air” will also keep from melting the nearly record-setting amounts of snow from Monday’s storm, which dumped 8.7 inches on Bangor, according to Tim Duda, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Caribou. The storm almost broke a record set in 1938, when 9.2 inches fell in Bangor, marking the city’s snowiest Christmas since the weather service starting tracking Christmas snowfall totals in 1925.

A windchill advisory is in effect for the northern half of the state, beginning at 10 p.m. Tuesday and lasting until 7 a.m. Wednesday. Daytime temperatures there will hover around zero. But after the sun sets, wind gusts reaching 30 mph could make the air feel as cold as 30 below zero, Duda said.

More wind advisories could be called for other areas of the state throughout the week, as forecasters monitor wind speeds, Pohl said.

The cold front isn’t expected to come with more precipitation, he added.

The average snowfall Monday was between 6 and 12 inches, but accumulation was fairly localized and piled unevenly across the state, Duda said. While some parts of the state clocked in at more than a foot of snow, others saw less than 3 inches.

“It was truly a white Christmas yesterday, without a doubt,” Duda said.

The storm started before sunrise and raced northward, with southern and central counties getting the brunt of the snow, dropping as much at 5 inches per hour in some areas.

Wind gusts blew up to 45 mph in Bangor and 50 mph along the coast, resulting in whiteout conditions that lowered turnpike speeds and caused motorists to drive off the road.

The highest snow totals were recorded in Greenbush, about 20 miles north of Bangor, at 15 inches, and 14½ inches in the Lewiston-Auburn area.

“Anywhere that saw 10 inches or more probably saw 2 to 4 inches an hour,” Duda said.

Far northern areas, on the other hand, saw less than 5 inches. Caribou received 4.8 inches, and less was reported on the northwest border with Canada, Duda said.

Down East and along the coast, accumulation varied widely, ranging from up to 10 inches near Belfast, to 2½ inches in Jonesport.

Skies cleared by 2 p.m. in the southern counties, and the snow stopped closer to sundown farther north. All but a handful of flights into the Portland and Bangor airports were canceled.

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