While Maine winters are legendary for their severity, so far, this one has so far been relatively mild.
“Temperatures are tending to run in Portland closer to 40 degrees when the normal high is much closer to 30 degrees,” says Mika Cempa with the National Weather Service in Gray.
Cempa says the same phenomenon is being seen all over the state, with temperatures running 4-9 degrees above where they should be, and none of the subzero temperatures that normally come with a Maine January.
In fact, Cempa says much of the Northern hemisphere is experiencing something similar, due to the temperature of the airmass over the North Pole.
“This year, that has actually not gotten very cold, and it’s been on the warmer side. Is it due to lower amounts of ice on the Arctic Ocean? There could be a lot of reasons why it’s happening,” he says.
Maine’s snowpack has also suffered. According to the State of Maine Cooperative Snow Survey taken in early January, the deepest snow was 9.9 inches, compared with 22 inches at this time last year. Additionally, the water content of the snow is significantly lower than normal.
Cempa says it’s still too soon to say if a lack of snowpack will bump the state into another drought this spring, but he says it’s a possibility if rainfall is also low.