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Forecasters predict ‘slow warm-up’ for County

HOULTON, Maine — Tara Stewart admitted Friday that for the first time this winter, she opted to skip her customary outdoor workout.

“I did get up and put my running clothes on,” she said, laughing as she recalled readying to leave her home at 5 a.m. “But admittedly, I opened the door, got a blast of cold air, and just immediately decided to go back to bed. It was just too cold outside.”

While extreme cold has killed 17 people across the United States this week, Maine has largely been insulated from the temperatures.  Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Caribou said Friday, Feb. 1, that cold air will remain entrenched over the state today and tonight before a slow warm-up over the weekend.

Joe Hewitt, meteorologist at the NWS in Caribou, said that Van Buren was the coldest spot in Maine last night with a temperature of 19 degrees below zero. Caribou reached 10 below zero, while Hermon and Old Town both recorded temperatures of 7 below zero. It was 1 degree in Bangor.

“It was quite a range,” Hewitt acknowledged.

Wind chills on Friday evening into Saturday could reach between 20 and 25 degrees below zero.

According to statistics provided by the weather service, warmer weather is customary during the month of February, when the average high temperature rises from 20 degrees on Feb. 1 to 28 degrees by the end of the month. The average low temperature rises from 1 degree above zero on Feb. 1 to 8 degrees by the end of the month.

The warmest temperature ever observed during the month of February was 59 degrees on Feb. 20, 1994.  That is also the warmest temperature ever observed at Caribou during the meteorological winter. The coldest temperature ever observed in February was 41 below on Feb.1, 1955. It was also the coldest temperature ever observed at Caribou.

On average, February is the third snowiest month of the year. The snowiest February on record was in 2008 when 47.7 inches of snow fell. The least snowiest February was in 1987, when only 4.1 inches was observed.

The month also had the distinction of being the coldest winter month 21 times since 1939.  

On average there are five days in February with a snowfall of 1 inch of more, two days with a snowfall of 3 inches of more, and one day with a snowfall of 6 inches or greater.  The greatest calendar day snowfall of 20.8 inches was observed on February 2, 2003.

Hewitt said that it looks like it will be a bit warmer tonight into Saturday.

“I don’t think it is going to be as cold,’ he said. “The coldest spots will be in the St. John Valley and around the Allagash. There will be more cloud cover tonight, which will benefit us.”

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