A heat wave will lift parts of Maine into the mid-80s Wednesday, pushing the mercury well past the average temperature for May 2.
By late afternoon, Bangor is expected to reach 83 degrees — the same highs predicted for Portland and Augusta, according to the National Weather Service.
Similarly dry, hot temperatures will be felt across the southern portion of the state, as a mass of high pressure, warm air moves in from the south, said Tom Hawley, a weather forecaster in Gray.
“It’s going to feel like mid-summer heat today,” Hawley said.
The last time Maine hit 80 degrees was on Sept. 27, 2017, he said. It’s unusual for the state to get this warm this early in the year, he said, adding that Portland’s average temperature for May 2 is 59 degrees. Bangor’s is 60 degrees, according to Mark Bloomer, a forecaster in Caribou.
The warm air prompted officials to urge people to be careful outside today and temper enthusiasm for the summer-like temperatures with safety.
The Maine Department of Environment Protection issued an air quality alert that will remain in effect from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday, and warned of elevated ozone levels that could cause respiratory problems.
The service urged people to limit their outdoor physical activity. Children, the elderly and those with allergies or respiratory problems such as asthma or heart disease should be especially careful of exerting themselves in the heat, the service cautioned.
Swimmers, kayakers, and canoeists should be careful in and on the water, which is still “dangerously cold,” the service warned.
“When the temperatures get up in to the mid-80s, you get many more people out there kayaking,” Hawley said. But the heat can lead people to “underestimate the danger of the cold water,” the service warned.
Ocean temperatures are in the low to mid-40s, and could put swimmers at risk of hypothermia, the service said in a hazardous beach statement, released in tandem with the Coast Guard.
Maine rivers, lake and inland bodies of water are still hovering mostly in the 40s, which would “incapacitate a good swimmer within minutes.” Many rivers and lakes have just recently iced out, with the water remaining frigid.
Overnight, temperatures in Bangor will drop back down toward the high 50s, ushering rain that is expected to fall for much of the day Thursday, according to the weather service.
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