HOULTON, Maine — More than 50 inches of snow fell on the Caribou area in December and through Jan. 15, making this the snowiest first half of winter since 2007-2008, according to the National Weather Service.
The snowfall was 16.1 inches above the average over the past 30 years, said Rich Norton, meteorologist at the NWS office in Caribou.
Chelsea McPherson of Houlton admitted Wednesday that she “kind of had her fingers crossed” that Maine would experience another winter like last year, when above-average temperatures meant below-average snowfall.
“I know the snowmobilers and the skiers hated it,” she said. “But as a runner, there was nothing better than to be outside in February in just a sweatshirt and leggings, being able to run down the sidewalks and have them not clogged with snow.”
So far this winter, however, it’s the snow lovers in northern Maine who are getting their wish.
In Portland, only 20.7 inches of snow has fallen so far this winter, but that is still 7.8 inches above normal, according to officials at the National Weather Service in Gray. In Gray, 38.7 inches has fallen, which is right on average.
At Bangor, a total of 21.3 inches so far this winter — defined by the weather service as December, January and February — represents just one tenth of an inch below average.
During the same time period in Caribou, the average temperature of 15.8 degrees equaled the 30-year average from 1981 to 2010, according to Norton. From Dec. 1 through Jan. 15, there were 15 nights with a low below zero at Caribou, which was 2 days above average.
In Bangor, the average temperature so far this winter of 21.8 degrees was 1.3 degrees below average. There were 8 nights with a low below zero, which was 2 days above average.
Norton said the state has transitioned out of an El Nino pattern that gripped the state last winter and into a La Nina pattern. La Nina is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, compared to El Nino, which is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific.
La Nina disrupts normal weather patterns, which as a result can lead to intense storms in some places and droughts in others, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In Maine, that translates into a long, snowy winter, Norton said.
Norton said that Aroostook County residents should see some more snowfall Wednesday night into Thursday, when a storm system will drop between one and four inches of snow on some parts of the region. Friday will dawn clear and sunny with a high temperature of 31 degrees and the weather should remain clear through the weekend.