PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The weekend’s bitter cold snap broke wind chill records on both ends of the state, but by Sunday morning the freeze was gone.
Wind chills in Frenchville bottomed out at minus 61 degrees about 6 a.m. Saturday, breaking the town’s 2004 record of minus 54.3 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Caribou.
On Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, the wind chill was minus 62 degrees at 10:12 p.m. Friday.
Portland also broke a record with a wind chill of minus 45 about 9 p.m. Friday, the coldest recorded since 1948. Bangor saw its coldest wind chill of minus 47 around midnight Saturday, and Mt. Katahdin reached a wind chill of minus 90, according to the weather service.
Warnings for the frigid weekend covered the entire state. As Mainers prepared for the coldest weather in several years, emergency management and municipal officials warned people to stay inside if possible.
Gusty winds were forecast to be so high in Aroostook County that the National Weather Service in Caribou issued a blizzard warning for the area.
Warming centers opened and several schools, particularly in northern Maine, either closed or conducted remote learning Friday.
In Presque Isle on Friday morning, people gathered supplies at local stores and lined up to fill vehicle gas tanks.
Business was brisk at the Daigle Oil Co. filling station and had been since Thursday, employee Gavin Pangburn said.
“Everybody’s topping off everything they’ve got — cars, snowmobiles, gas for snowblowers and generators,” he said.
Winds blew snow so severely that several roads in The County closed temporarily. Police and the Aroostook County Emergency Management Agency took to social media to warn people to avoid travel if possible and stay home.
“The wind and blowing snow [are] causing whiteouts and heavy drifting in the roadway that plow crews are unable to keep up with,” the Maine State Police said, adding troopers responded to several crashes during the weekend.
Several roads in open areas were impassable in Fort Fairfield, and the town’s public works director had to make a path with a snowblower for an officer to reach a stranded motorist, Fort Fairfield police said.
Aroostook temperatures sank late Friday into early Saturday and reached lows of minus 21 in Houlton and Caribou and minus 23 in Frenchville.
Wind chills plummeted Saturday morning to minus 50 in Houlton at 1:53 a.m. and minus 48 in Caribou just after midnight.
Data were not available from Presque Isle due to failure of Federal Aviation Administration weather instruments at the airport, the city’s public information officer, Kim Smith, said Sunday.
Wind chill records are minus 58.6 in Caribou in 1951, minus 46.7 in Presque Isle in 1957 and minus 56.8 in Houlton, set in 1995.
Maine’s coldest temperature record was minus 50 degrees at Big Black River near Allagash, set in 2009.
Temperatures across northern Maine rose above zero Sunday morning amid calm winds.