October 14, 2019
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Mainers weary of ‘brutal’ winter conditions, but end is in sight

Courtesy of Tammy Fairchild
Courtesy of Tammy Fairchild
Lubec Selectman Dan Wagner shoveled a path to a friend's house in February.

FORT KENT, Maine — As parts of Maine woke to more fresh snow or freezing rain Thursday morning, residents took to social media to post photos of the latest round of nasty weather and lament the lingering winter conditions.

“When will it end?” and “make it stop” seemed to be the most common sentiments.

But in the big Maine weather picture, how extreme has the 2014-2015 winter season been?

“Down East, and certainly along the coast, it has been well above normal. Historic would be the word for it,” Donny Dumond, warning coordinator meteorologist at the Caribou National Weather Service, said.

“In Robbinston, where there are no official climatological recording devices, volunteer weather spotters have recorded 196.7 inches of snowfall so far this year,” Dumond said Thursday.

“Robbinston and Eastport got close to 200-inches,” Dumond said. “But unless we can tweak some more snow out of the system tonight, I don’t think they will make it.”

Whether that is enough for “record snowfall” status is hard to say, Dumond said, because records for that part of the state do not go back that far.

“Definitely compared to the last couple of winters, this has been a stronger winter for them,” he said.

“Up here in [Aroostook County] in the Caribou area, we actually sneaked into a top 10 snowfall total with the last snow event,” Dumond said. “It just keeps on going.”

Caribou has recorded 141.2 inches of snow this year and is holding at the 10th snowiest winter on record. The record was set in 2008, when 197.8 inches of snow fell.

Bangor is holding at its second snowiest winter on record, with 136.7 inches, Dumond said, far from the record 181.9 inches of 1963.

“I am sure there are some old-timers who would tell you about that year,” he said.

In Eastport, weather spotters recorded 125.3 inches of snowfall between Jan. 27 and Feb.27.

“Those are unofficial numbers,” Dumond said. “But that is a significant amount. If records were kept for that area, it probably would have broken those records.”

With all that snow came cold — “brutal” cold, according to Dumond.

“February was pretty much the coldest month on record for the entire state,” he said. “That can be rough on people.”

The average temperature for Bangor from January through March was 15.3 degrees, Dumond said, smashing the previous record cold for that same period of 17.3 degrees set in 1948.

It was cold in Caribou over those same three months, with an average of 10.5 degrees, but not cold enough to break the 1948 record of 10.1 degrees.

Mainers are used to cold weather in January, Dumond said. But this year, the extreme cold temperatures lingered into February, which averaged a record 6.1 degrees in Bangor and 2.8 degrees in Caribou.

That many cold months in a row kept the snow from melting and made the winter feel long for a lot of people, Dumond said.

“It really made it seem like a rough winter,” he said.

The fault, he said, can be placed firmly at the feet of the jet stream and a persistent northwest flow that funneled arctic air into Maine straight down from Canada.

Couple that with storm tracks that persisted off the coast and allowed snow to develop along the coast, and that’s the recipe for the snowy and frigid Maine 2015 winter season.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“I expect people to really start noticing a difference after tonight,” Dumond said.

Temperatures around the state will begin to moderate Friday and by next week could reach the 60s in the south and the 50s in the north.

But there remains at least one more patch of winter to get through, according to the National Weather Service.

A wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain was forecast to hit northern, central and coastal Maine starting late Thursday. The weather is expected to change over to rain along the coast but fall as frozen precipitation in central and Northern Maine through early Friday afternoon.

“It’s felt like a long winter for a lot of people in the state,” Dumond said. “But spring is in sight.”



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