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Maine's snowfall this winter is 30 inches below normal

A trail sign for a snowshoeing route is seen on a snowless field at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Maine in late December.
Robert F. Bukaty/AP
A trail sign for a snowshoeing route is seen on a snowless field at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Maine in late December.

This week’s coming storm will likely end a winter season in Maine that has seen very little snow. Data collected by the National Weather Service shows Maine's statewide snowfall to be 97.4 inches — about 30 inches below its historical average of 128 inches.

Snowfall amounts in mountain areas this year were generally closer to their averages compared to Down East and along the coast. Caribou’s snowfall is almost 2 feet below its historical average, while the difference for Portland and Bangor is almost 3 feet

The National Weather Service collected the data from five climate stations across the state. Meteorologists attribute the low snowfall this season to the El Niño weather event.

"We typically see more moisture with El Niño events, but that moisture comes with warmer air masses," said Derek Schroeter, an NWS meteorologist in Gray, Maine. "That’s also how this winter played out where a lot of that precipitation fell as rain instead of snow — wetter than normal, and warmer than normal. That tends to be what is expected during El Niño winters."

Schroeter and NWS Gray provided the following snowfall figures (accurate as of 4/1):

LocationSnowfall for Winter '23/'24Historical AverageDifference
Portland30.0 in.65.9 in.35.9 in.
Bangor36.5 in.70.9 in.34.4 in.
Caribou87.0 in.109.1 in.22.1 in.

High pressure atmospheric conditions caused by El Niño have also reduced the number of storms this winter.

"We’ve had several substantial coastal storms that brought a lot of rainfall [and] definitely saw an overabundance of those," said Todd Foisy, the science and operations officer at the NWS in Caribou. "[There has not been] as many storms, and then the storms we have had are on the warm side. It’s just how it goes sometimes."

The Climate Prediction Center estimates a 60% chance of a La Niña event occurring later this year, which could bring about more snow next winter.

Nick Song is Maine Public's inaugural Emerging Voices Fellowship Reporter.

Originally from Southern California, Nick got his start in radio when he served as the programming director for his high school's radio station. He graduated with a degree in Journalism and History from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University -- where he was Co-News Director for WNUR 89.3 FM, the campus station.