Wintry mix wreaks havoc on Maine

Tuesday 6:00 PM Update – A Look Overnight Into Wednesday
Futurecast radar from 2 PM Tuesday to 2 AM Thursday in 3 hour increments for reference…

In reference to this model idea, the NAM model tends to be a bit aggressive in precipitation output and type. This is presented to give you and idea on when it will end in your area. This loop will also show you the potential for snow showers that I indicated in an earlier update on this post that is likely to happen.

Most advisories and/or warnings have been extended for the state. You can scroll down to the very end of this post to click on links to the Gray or Caribou weather service offices to get the latest for your area.

Cold air, as it almost always does, trumps the models and fools forecasters. Not to toot my own horn, but I have lived around here long enough to know that with a cold northeast wind and a slow moving ocean storm, the ground does not easily warm up to the temperatures guidance suggest. I could see this coming, and not surprised of the outcome. This rule is in place for overnight as well. The wind does not appear to shift until later this evening as the storm moves closer. How warm it gets over the interior really is anyone’s best guess at this point. The further east the storm is, the less chance the western foothills thaw out.

Don’t be fooled by your vehicle thermometer unless it reads 40°. Air temperature and surface temperature are two different animals, and can vary by a handful of degrees in cases, with the ground being colder.

While the southern part of the region will dry out in the morning, it won’t be until early afternoon before the north clears out. Keep in mind that there may be isolated showers of the rain or snow type until the air column over the state clears out, which it may not completely. Once the northwest wind picks up, snow showers will form and be an issue for areas through Wednesday night and into Thursday. Expect daytime high temperatures to range in the 20s & 30s statewide on Wednesday and cooler in the same range by 5° or so for Thursday.

Thank you for joining me over the past couple of days and following this storm. I am not sure when my next update will be. I hope to get one up by the weekend.

Have a great evening!

Tuesday 4:45 PM Update – A View From Above


NASA / MODIS photo of the winter storm affecting the region today. Note the puffy clouds of heavy bands of precipitation over Maine.

Tuesday 4:00 PM Update – Storm To Hang Around In Some Form Until Next Week

Looking ahead at mid-range guidance made me chuckle and shed a tear when I was glancing at it. Follow along with me.

We start with this morning as the storm was gearing up over southern Maine. High pressure to the north helped keep the cold air tucked into place, and why this event is going to drag on until Wednesday. (1)

We move along to Thursday morning here. Our current storm has finally reached Newfoundland, but it is engaged in what is called the Fujiwhara Effect with a storm to the west of it. This is a dance between two low pressure systems until one of them wears out. That low to the west will be spinning waves through the state, which are likely to bring snow showers for the region late Wednesday and most of the day Thursday. (2)

We jump ahead to Saturday and the low that was to the west of the state Thursday has captured all of the energy of the storm that the state is dealing with and through a process called bombogenesis creates a monster storm over northeastern Quebec. This is likely to cause more waves of light snow for the state, some snappy wind chill and more cold air dumping in from Canada. (3)

Then by the first of the week, we can comfortably say we’ve seen this movie before. The low over northeast Quebec weakens, but it starts to dance with a low just to its west. In the meantime more waves with chances for snow in northern Maine, more cold, and a breeze with a bite.

The January thaw is over. This is full blown winter again.

The good news is there is no disruptive storms in sight, but the nuisance snow showers with enough accumulations to have to deal with it may drive a few folks crazy until the traffic jam in the northeastern Atlantic dissolves.

Oh, and we go back into the freezer by the middle part of next week.

Tuesday 3:00 PM Update – A Look At The Evening Drive


A look statewide at the 2:40 PM Radar shows the mixing has made its way north into The County. The alarming item to note is Portland at 31° which continues to prove that that cold air is hanging on strong at the coastline. While the green on the precipitation depiction radar may bring some confidence, all that indicates is warm air is closer to the warm ground, and that means freezing rain is still a problem in areas below 32°

Take it easy, drive with caution.

Tuesday 12:00 PM Update – The “Nose” And Cold Air Damming


A look at temperatures at around 5,000 feet above sea level (shaded) shows the much talked about “nose” from a different angle. Lighter shades of blue indicate temperature above freezing, the blue darker below freezing. Snow is falling in northern Maine since the “nose” of warmth hasn’t made it that far inland yet. Where southern and western interior areas have had some icing, the colder air has crept back in to bring more sleet. Coastal areas of southwest main on up into central and eastern parts of the state have had some concerning levels of ice accretion, with reports of a 1/2″ in places.

This storm is not quite half over yet.


While the heavier precipitation has moved northward, steadier precipitation remains. With cold air dammed in close to shore, areas of freezing rain and freezing drizzle will remain a threat. Ice accumulates quicker with freezing drizzle since it does not have the velocity that rain does. Keep that in mind if that is the precipitation type for your area.

Many winter weather advisories in the western and southern half of the state have been extended as a result of the cold air hanging in close. As is always the case in these types of events, cold air wins, again and again.

Next update later this afternoon.


Tuesday 10:45 AM Update – Ice Concerns Growing For Eastern Maine

From the National Weather Service office in Caribou forecast discussion (my corrections to their abbreviations) issued at 10:32 AM Tuesday:

Only change to prior forecast was to beef up the ice amounts from about a Bangor to Princeton and Danforth line with ice accumulations of over 0.5 inches possible. However, with the way reports have been coming in with flipping back and forth between sleet and freezing rain (I) am not confident enough
to issue ice storm warning. Have re-issued and re-grouped Winter Storm Warning to highlight the significant icing threat for southern zones. Only marginal changes needed, mostly to surface temps for the day as cold air-damming is taking hold.

Cold air damming is likely to cause problems for much of the state away from the shorelines for hours to come, and perhaps the duration of the event for the interior.

Tuesday 9:30 AM Update: Future Radar / Prolonged Icing Concerns

A look at what to expect over the remainder of the day, and its not looking good. Here’s a pro tip when looking at future radar with mixed precipitation: results will vary. This is for idea purposes only.

I am becoming concerned for the western foothills that this may turn into a prolonged ice event. As I have discussed, the northeast wind will do a fine job keeping the temperatures below freezing. Guidance is picking up on that.



I will throw out another word of caution and say this solution may be on the warm side for the coastal plain based on current trends, which is also concerning for me.

There is a significant amount of moisture associated with this system still to fall. This graphic below is just the next 18 hours.



As I mentioned in a different post over the weekend, surprises are very likely to happen. This may be the big one.

Tuesday 8:25 AM Update: Radar Outlook

Radar image at around 8 AM Tuesday morning over the southern half of the state shows a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain over the interior and rain slowly making its way onshore along the MidCoast and Coastal Hancock County. Storm reports of sleet and snow accumulation along with a report of 0.25″ of ice accretion in Waterville.

radar2For the northern half of the state, snow appears to be the main precipitation type for now. Dry air is keeping Van Buren and Houlton areas free of snow for now, but it won’t last much longer before moisture gets the upper hand there.

There are several hundred storm related cancellations and delays being reported to the Bangor Daily News from all around the state. Given the conditions of the roadways, it would be wise to minimize or eliminate travel today if at all possible.

Tuesday 6:25 AM Update: Freezing Rain Concerns

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Based on current trends and observations, the icing threat is a legitimate one for much of the state. This image here is similar to the one I posted last night and it appears that the area covered is likely to occur. Warmer air appears to creep to a lower level, which brings the risk for prolonged periods of icing.

The latest ice accretion forecasts from the National Weather Service concur with the general idea posted above:

StormTotalIceFcst (1)


Along with the ice comes the potential for power outages from the wind.

Image courtesy used with permission

“Freely Available” image courtesy

With wind gusts ranging from 25-35 mph and predicted amounts, the risk is real for tree limbs or other flying debris to knock out electricity supplies. While warmer air will eventually work in at the surface, the damage may already be done by the time that occurs. Widespread impacts may occur.

Tuesday 5:25 AM Update: Sleet And Freezing Rain Impacting Southern Areas


The storm has arrived in the state right on schedule. A wide angle view of the radar shows the storm well to the south and will move east/northeast during the day.

This is going to be a long duration event. The heaviest precipitation will move through the state from southwest to northeast during the day. As the storm pulls away, southern areas see steady precipitation end this evening, but won’t completely shut off until the wee hours of Wednesday. Central Maine in the Waterville / Bangor area sees steadier precipitation end by around midnight, with light activity not ending until around daylight Wednesday. Northern Maine gets into the game this morning, and that won’t end for the Crown until Wednesday around noon.

Be advised a trailing wave behind the system may bring light snow / rain shower activity Wednesday afternoon into early evening for the northern two thirds of the state.

As far as changeover goes, cold air is holding tight along the coast at this hour, which will freeze any liquid falling on contact. Changeover will occur once, or if, the cold air decides to move.

There are already reports of slick roads. One comment on Twitter indicated his drive was like skiing on corn snow in the Kittery / Portsmouth area. Speeds are reduced on the Maine Turnpike and on 295 in the Portland area.

More information to come…


Monday 9:40 PM Update: Outlook through early morning

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Forecast remains on track for precipitation to cause problems for the morning commute for areas south of the Crown of the state. This image here from the Monday evening run of the NAM model shows almost an identical solution as to the one I posted on Facebook. This is vertical velocity (upward motion) at 7 AM and shows precipitation falling heavy in areas (York County) with steadier amounts over many of the more populous towns.

Freezing rain / rain may be an issue for interior parts of York County by then. Portland to Eastport along the coast may be dealing with sleet. This forecast remains a tough call for many areas along the coast and will likely be a “nowcast” event.

Thanks to those who caught my Facebook Live update. In case you missed it, you can click on the link below which will direct you to my page in order to get it.

My next update will come around 5 AM. Keep watching this page for the latest!

Monday 6:30 PM Update: Slight Forecast Revision, Other Information



For southwest coastal interests, the recent discussion from the National Weather Service in Gray indicated that a wind advisory is likely to be issued in the near future, so expect that to happen soon.

I have tweaked the forecast map slightly to account for more freezing rain in northeastern and southeastern Aroostook county and moved Bangor into the 1-3″ range for snow and sleet. Portland area, 3-6″ is where I think this will end up between sleet and snow.

The big story for the western half of the state will be sleet, and freezing rain for the eastern half. This isn’t to say that freezing rain won’t be a problem for the western half, because there will likely be some.


When viewing this above graphic, do not consider the actual amounts but the areas that are most likely to be affected. I do think the mountains of western Maine escape the icing for the most part. I like the idea that the foothills through the coastal interior on north and east will have periods of icing. I expect snow to start everywhere, then to sleet, and as the warm air nose gets closer to the surface, freezing rain to occur. For western interior areas, a tenth to three tenths appear possible. For eastern and northern areas away from the DownEast coast can expect a quarter to a half inch.

Forecast confidence is still a shaky with this one given the unknown of the warm air “nose” and how far north and west it will go. Interior eastern Maine and southern Aroostook County is shaping up to be where the most ice will come from this event as it stands for now.

NOTE: I will do a Facebook Live at 9 PM to answer what questions and concerns you may have.

Monday 4:30 PM Update: Weather Warnings & Advisories

The National Weather Service in Caribou has issued the following:

WINTER STORM WARNING for Central & Southern Penobscot, Northern & Central Washington, and Interior Hancock Counties from 7 AM Tuesday to 1 PM Wednesday… 1-3″ of sleet with 0.25″-0.50″ of ice accretion.

WINTER STORM WARNING for Southeast Aroostook County from 7 AM Tuesday to 1 PM Wednesday… 3-5″ of snow and sleet with 0.25″ of ice accretion

WINTER STORM WARNING for Northwest Aroostook, Northeast Aroostook, Northern Somerset and all of Piscataquis Counties from 7 AM Tuesday to 1 PM Wednesday… 3-6″ of snow and sleet plus a trace of ice.

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY for Coastal Hancock & Coastal Washington Counties from 1 AM Tuesday to 1 PM Wednesday… 1/2″ – 1″ of sleet plus a trace of ice.

WIND ADVISORY for Coastal Hancock & Coastal Washington Counties from 4 AM to 7 PM Tuesday… Northeast wind 20-30 mph with gusts between 45-50 mph.

The National Weather Service in Gray has issued the following:

WINTER STORM WARNING for Central Somerset County from 4 AM to 7 PM Tuesday… 5-8″ of snow with some sleet mixed in.

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY for Interior York County from 1 AM Tuesday to 7 PM Tuesday… 3-6″ of snow and sleet with a tenth of a inch of ice.

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY for Coastal York County from 10 PM Monday to 1 PM Tuesday… 2″ of snow and sleet with a trace of ice.

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY for Coastal Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox & Waldo Counties from 10 PM Monday to 1 PM Tuesday… 1 to 3″ of snow and sleet with a tenth of an inch of ice.

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY for Oxford, Franklin, Southern Somerset, Androscoggin, Interior Cumberland and Kennebec Counties from 1 AM to 7 PM Tuesday… 3-6″ of snow and sleet along with a tenth of an inch of ice.

COASTAL FLOOD ADVISORY for Coastal Cumberland & Coastal York Counties from 6 AM – 10  AM Tuesday… Storm surge of 1-2 feet in combination with seas of 15-20 feet may cause minor flooding. (Editors Note: beach erosion likely)

Monday 2:00 PM Update: A Look At The Wind

There are two points to emphasize with the wind. The first point is intensity.


The strongest winds for the southwest shorelines appear in the wee hours of Tuesday and then gradually work their way up the coast during the course of the morning. The National Weather Service has issued storm warnings for most of the coast, with gale warnings for Casco Bay as well as Penobscot over to Frenchman’s Bay. It’s rather impressive for the wind field to be well north of the center of low pressure. Winds may gust into the 50 mph range during the morning along the shorelines, with higher gusts possible offshore.

The second point is with wind affecting the surface…


This piece of it is so critical for the land side for the storm. Cold high pressure in the Canadian Maritimes the region is experiencing Monday will be reinforced by the northeast wind from the storm which will help keep it close to the southwest shorelines. This is important as to what happens when precipitation finally makes landfall. If in the form of rain, it could bring an icing period. This is why the “nose” of warm air I discussed in my previous update and how close to the surface it gets will ultimately decide the outcome at landfall.

The wind appears to slowly subside for western & southern areas by late morning as the storm moves eastward. Eastern areas up into the Crown appear to deal with the worst of the wind mid to late morning Tuesday then slowly diminish early to late evening Tuesday night.

The entire region is likely to experience wind gusts in the 20-30 mph range and some areas may see gusts around 35 mph, most likely in the mountains and shorelines.

The wind does not appear to completely diminish statewide until Wednesday afternoon. It will be a slow process to calmer speeds.

Previous Update:


Monday Noon Update: Most of the morning guidance is in at this point, and it appears models are locked into their ideas. There is still a fair amount of disagreement with precipitation type as the cold GFS is snowier and it’s warmer NAM counterpart is more into the sleet & freezing rain. The Canadian GEM model is on the snow / sleet side. The overnight European model is snow to start with freezing rain kicking in over the York County interior in the wee hours of Tuesday

The Canadian RDPS model above I present to give an idea of areas that could be in the mixing stages by the morning commute. The western foothills on over to central Washington County to the shorelines may experience snow, sleet, and/or freezing rain. I discussed potential rapid accumulation on the Pine Tree Weather Facebook page this morning, and that idea remains a concern for the morning drive time.

To this point, winter storm watches remain in effect for Aroostook, Northern Penobscot, Somerset, Franklin, Oxford, Androscoggin, Kennebec, Interior York and Interior Cumberland Counties. A winter weather advisory is in effect for Coastal Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo Counties.

Decisions will be made this afternoon if the watches will be upgraded to warnings and for any wind related advisories and/or warnings.

This will be a building blog during the event, so please check back here for more information

-Mike Haggett


Updates are usually posted between 5 – 7 PM, when they happen. Please bookmark Pine Tree Weather in order to check to get the latest update!

For official forecast information: please check in with National Weather Service Gray for Western & Southern Maine and National Weather Service Caribou for Eastern & Northern Maine.

For more information between posts, please check out the Pine Tree Weather Facebook page and follow me on Twitter for breaking weather alerts & information!

Special 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.

Always Stay Weather Aware!

Mike Haggett

About Mike Haggett

As a Mainer for nearly five decades, Mike understands all too well the ever changing weather forecasts and surprises given the location and geography of the state. Spending much of his time as child outdoors fishing in all four seasons, keeping track of the weather was a must for personal safety. Living firsthand through the impacts of weather through many types of storms and phenomena, the idea came to mind for him to analyze it closer in 2011.