Here Comes The Freezer Burn
The deep cold will be the next hurdle for Maine to work through over the next couple of days. The only way the frigid temperatures will leave the region is with a storm approaching this weekend. It’s mid-January in mid-December for all of the state through the middle part of next week.
Two types of temperatures noted on this graphic, with the white being where the mercury says what figure it is outside, and the pink indicating what the air feels like. It is worthy to pass along the highs of the day will come around midday, with temperatures heading for the cellar from 1-2 PM on. Wind chill values are expected below zero by mid-afternoon for the High Peaks region, as well as the Crown of the state.
With the approach of the Arctic front, hit or miss snow showers are possible for much of the region. Given the amount of dry air around and even drier air moving in, accumulations are likely to be very little. Down slope winds may bring an inch to the High Peaks & foothills, but that appears isolated.
The National Weather Service has issued Wind Chill Warnings, Advisories, and Watches all around the state for Thursday night through Friday night.
Outside of the coastal islands and residences on the immediate shoreline, all areas of Maine appear to wake up Friday below zero. With wind from the northwest at 15-25 mph with gusts as high as 40 mph, the temperature isn’t going to climb a whole lot.
The wind continues through the day as the deep cold dome works in from the northwest. Actual high temperatures for Friday appear below zero for the mountains & northern Aroostook, single digits elsewhere, and the shorelines -may- make it to 10°. Wind chill values appear -40° to -20° over interior areas, -20° to -5° along the coast.
In this type of weather, many problems can arise. Vehicles won’t start, or can breakdown for various reasons. If the car battery is weak, disconnect it and bring it inside where it is warm, or get it replaced. Make sure the vehicle gas tank is filled, and add a blanket in case of a breakdown. Frost bite can occur within 5 to 10 minutes to any exposed skin. Make sure the entire body is covered if going out, and limit the time outside. Any pets should have limited time in the deep cold as well. Check on the neighbors, especially the elders, to make sure they are warm and safe.
A Slick Weekend
Models have more or less come into agreement that Saturday will feature a snow event around the region. At this point, it appears to be roughly a 3-6″ event statewide with isolated higher and lower amounts, but this is subject to change. The good news is temperatures will rise some as warmer air moves in aloft, with daily highs roughly in the teens & 20s. Warmer air continues to push in northwestward Saturday night into Sunday, and with that, another hurdle to contend with, and that is ice.
For those of you looking at a weather app on your phone that suggests high temperatures for Sunday will be in the 30s and 40s, ignore it. There is a weather phenomena in this state that fools models and inexperienced forecasters unfamiliar with the terrain, and that is called “cold air damming”. Models love to move around cold air like it’s just as light as warm air, which it isn’t. Cold air, and this type of deep cold air coming into the region is extremely dense. Once that air settles in, it won’t move until it is good and ready to.
With the White Mountains and even the High Peaks region acting as a dam, warm air isn’t easily going to move in at the surface. Shoreline areas are likely to escape the cold air dam, but warm air won’t move too far inland. This is a classic set up where Portland, Rockland, Bar Harbor may reach above freezing, but Fryeburg, Lewiston/Auburn, Augusta, and Bangor could be as much as 10-20° cooler. Mount Washington could record a temperature at 40° and Berlin, NH at the base would be at 25° in the same hour. It is these types of situations where freezing rain is likely to cause problems.
Since models are still trying to solve the exact track of low pressure coming out of the Great Lakes late week, there are two different scenarios playing out. If the storm tracks north of the St. Lawrence River, snow changes to freezing rain overnight Saturday into Sunday. In this scenario, time will tell if southwest winds will be strong enough to move the cold out of the more populous interior areas for a change to rain. If the storm tracks south of the St. Lawrence River, there is a chance for snow to change to sleet and then freezing rain before it ends on Sunday. It’s shaping up to be a mess either way. The only areas that appear to escape are the shoreline towns, but not without some mix before the change to rain mid-morning.
The good news is any precipitation will end over much of the state by early Sunday afternoon. As the storm exits, the northwest wind returns as the storm intensifies in Labrador Bay. If there is any amount of ice accretion over interior areas, there is a chance for scattered power outages.
With the holidays quickly approaching, it is a busy time to prepare. Please use your discretion when doing any traveling this weekend, and stay up to date with the latest forecast information.
Stay tuned to Pine Tree Weather as the weekend approaches!
~ Mike Haggett
Specil thanks to Tropical Tidbits and Pivotal Weather for their written permission to use their graphics in this post. Use of WeatherTAP images used within their written permitted terms of media use policy. Additional forecast information supplied by the National Weather Service, WeatherBELL Analytics and AccuWeather Professional.
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