GRAY — Bitterly cold weather returned to northern Maine on Monday and is expected to linger throughout the state the rest of the week. The first warming trend in temperatures won’t arrive until late Friday.
Margaret Curtis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said temperatures in Portland were expected to drop significantly from a high of 28 degrees at 9 p.m. Monday to low of 5 degrees below zero by dawn on Tuesday.
Temperatures won’t get much higher than 15 degrees on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with Portland and coastal areas in line to receive a fair amount of snow late Tuesday into Wednesday.
“The Arctic cold front moved through on Monday afternoon and temperatures will just keep dropping,” Curtis said Monday night. “After the next few hours, I wouldn’t expect any place in the state to reach 20 degrees.”
Temperatures plummeted Monday afternoon in northern towns such as Weld, where a low of 8 degrees was recorded at 9 p.m. Monday.
That prompted the National Weather Service to issue a wind chill warning for the northern part of the state, where the wind chill could make it feel like it’s 30 degrees below zero.
Curtis said a significant winter storm affecting other parts of New England and the country will move past the Maine coast Tuesday and drop about 4 inches of snow on Portland and coastal areas. Inland areas should not see more than an inch of snow from the storm. Curtis said the worst part of the snowstorm will remain at sea.
“We are right on the edge of that storm,” she said.
For the third time this winter, Republican Gov. Paul LePage recently signed a limited emergency declaration allowing fuel transport and delivery truck drivers to spend extra hours on the roads to ensure that no one is left in the cold.
The Arctic air began creeping into the northern U.S. on Monday, sending temperatures plunging to below zero in North Dakota and northern Minnesota during the morning.
“It’s not to the extent of the last outbreak but it’s still bitterly cold,” said Paul Collar, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, referring to the recent polar vortex that sent temperatures plunging well below zero across much of the country and was blamed for at least a dozen deaths.
In addition to Maine, portions of Vermont, New Hampshire and Minnesota were under wind chill warnings.
“With these temperatures you’re going to have issues with exposed skin and frostbite, but not to the degree of severity of the last outbreak,” Collar said, describing it as “a normal cold event you’d see in a typical winter.”