BANGOR, Maine - Bangor set a Dec. 31 record for low temperature with a reading of -24 at the airport on Sunday. Credit: Bill Trotter|BDN

Maine’s bitter cold set records on the first day of 2018, but forecasters predicted Monday that a letup will arrive by midweek.

The National Weather Service recorded a temperature of -16 degrees Fahrenheit at Portland International Jetport on Monday, breaking Portland’s previous low temperature for Jan. 1, -12 degrees, set in 1957 and 1964.

Bangor, meanwhile, smashed its record for low air temperature on New Year’s Eve, recording a temperature of 24 degrees below zero at 4:03 a.m. Sunday at Bangor International Airport. That shaved 8 degrees off the previous Bangor record for Dec. 31 of -16 degrees in 2013.

The frigid holiday weekend helped make December unusually cold as Maine Decembers go — about 6.5 degrees below average in Bangor and 5.5 degrees below average in Portland. And it’s terribly early to tell, but January might also be a record-setting month, said Mike Cempa, a meteorologist at the weather service office in Gray.

“We’ll see how long we can take it,” Cempa said Monday. “It’s funny how easily you can get used to it. The first day is bad, but by now it’s like, yeah, just another cold day.”

Monday’s low temperature in Bangor was -14. Sunday’s in Portland was -5, according to the weather service.

Bangor and Portland typically have average temperatures in December of 17 and 28.8 degrees degrees, respectively, while Caribou averages 10.2 degrees.

Here’s the good news: A weather front arriving late Wednesday and departing early Friday will bring high temperatures in the low 20s — positively balmy — for much of Maine, said Tim Duda, a weather service meteorologist based in Caribou. But it also will likely bring snow.

“That’s still below normal for this time of year but a bit warmer than we have seen,” Duda said.

The Down East region will get as much as 7 inches of snow with that storm, with projected amounts declining farther inland and northward. That will add to snow totals that have this winter’s outdoors sports seasons off to a promising start. The snowfall for Caribou, typically the first place where sledding and skiing start, was 32.4 inches in December, or 11.3 inches above normal, Duda said.

Bangor’s snowfall of 27.7 inches is 11.3 inches above normal for December, Duda said.

But the warmer weather won’t last long. Another cold snap is expected to roll in this weekend. That should bring high temperatures back down into the single digits and send lows plunging below zero.

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