Dangerously cold temperatures in Maine Wednesday night into Thursday, officials warn

Birch trees along a side road in Ellsworth bow to the weight of ice and snow on Saturday. Expect more snow and extremely cold temperatures through Thursday.
Birch trees along a side road in Ellsworth bow to the weight of ice and snow on Saturday. Expect more snow and extremely cold temperatures through Thursday. Buy Photo
Posted Jan. 01, 2014, at 5:24 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 02, 2014, at 5:32 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Extremely cold weather hit Maine on Wednesday and dropped temperatures to dangerously low figures and officials are warning people to take extra steps to protect themselves, their pets and to ensure their vehicles start in the morning.

“Temperatures across the north will be between 30 and 35 below tonight, with a low of about minus 12 in Bangor area,” Mark Bloomer, forecaster and meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Caribou, said Wednesday afternoon. “Downeast areas will see minor teens to below 25 along the coast.”

The cold temperatures will remain on Thursday — which is when more snow is expected to hit the area — but will combine with winds to create dangerously cold wind chill factors, the meteorologist said.

The cold temperatures will remain below zero on Thursday in northern Maine, with temperatures predicted to reach a high of 5 to 15 degrees below zero, according to a hazardous weather bulletin from the National Weather Service in Caribou states. Southern portions of the state, including downeast areas, are expected to see temps between 5 degrees above and 5 degrees below zero.

“We’re looking at highs tomorrow only to be the mid-teens below zero up here [in Aroostook County] and only around zero in Bangor,” Bloomer said. “The wind chill will probably drop the temperature to 25 to 35 below in Down East areas and 40 to 45 degrees below in northern Maine.”

Frost bite and hypothermia can happen in as little as 15 minutes for those exposed to these extreme cold temperatures without proper protection, he said.

“When it gets this bitter cold you have to make sure you have ski pants, make sure your face and neck are protected and try to limit your time outdoors,” he said. “If possible, bring the car indoors or put a block heater on it or you might have to turn it on every couple hours to warm it back up.”

More snow coming

In addition to the cold, parts of the state can expect snow to start falling Thursday afternoon, said Corey Bogel, a weather service forecaster and meteorologist.

“Most of the snow will accumulate [tonight] and into Friday,” he said.

The Bangor area is predicted to see between 4 and 6 inches, with 6 to 8 inches expected along the coast, Bogel said.

“The highest amounts will be toward the coast and will drop off as you head toward Bangor,” the meteorologist said. “North of Bangor, the amounts will drop off pretty quickly. In Millinocket, they are only going to get in the area of an inch or two.”

Keep pets safe

Wind chill advisories and warnings are expected to last through Thursday night and into Friday morning.

“Most pets should be kept inside … and access to clean and unfrozen water is critical” for other animals, such as horses, that remain outdoors, the weather service warning states.

“Roaming cats will often seek the warmth of vehicle engines … so be sure to knock on your vehicle hood or honk the horn before starting your vehicle,” the weather service website states.

The bitter cold is expected to continue through Friday, even though temperatures are expected to increase.

“Although actual temperatures will not be as cold as Thursday night … stronger winds will once again lead to dangerously cold wind chills,” the weather service warning states.

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