January 23, 2013

Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer

Amy Alward of Portland walks with her 3-year-old flat-coated retriever, Coali, just after sunrise Wednesday.

Mainers brace for coldest weather in years

By Dennis Hoey
Staff Writer

Maine is headed for a deep freeze, the likes of which the state hasn't experienced since the winter of 2009-10.

Mike Cempa, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said the blast of polar air that moved into Maine on Tuesday night came from northern Canada and Quebec.

The weather service issued a wind chill warning Tuesday night, saying the wind, gusting to 25 mph, and low temperatures could make it feel like 20 to 30 degrees below zero.

Cempa said the extreme cold will stick around until Friday, when conditions will begin to warm up slightly -- temperatures could reach 20 degrees.

"This is some of the coldest air we've seen in more than two years," said Cempa, who advised anyone who goes outdoors to dress warmly and wear extra layers of clothing.

Cempa said daytime temperatures Wednesday along the coast will be around 10 degrees, with temperatures in the Augusta-Lewiston area hovering around 5 degrees.

Nighttime temperatures are expected to drop to zero. Combined with windy conditions Wednesday night, Cempa said it will feel like it is 10 to 15 degrees below zero.

"It's going to be pretty much all hands on deck," said Pat Moody, spokesman for AAA Northern New England, of Wednesday's staffing levels for the roadside assistance and travel club.

Moody said AAA will have a fully staffed fleet of emergency trucks available Wednesday to help motorists jump-start their cars or replace worn out batteries. There will also be extra personnel available to answer calls from stranded motorists.

On a typical day in January, AAA responds to about 2,000 calls from members who need some type of road assistance in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

"On a day like Wednesday, we expect that number to double," Moody said.

Moody advised motorists who have garages to park their vehicles inside. He said drivers may also want to check their car batteries for signs of corrosion. A typical car battery in Maine lasts three to five years.

AAA members who need assistance starting their cars should call (800) 222-4357.


Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer

Arctic sea smoke, created when very cold air touches warmer water, surrounds boats as they head out into Casco Bay just before sunrise Wednesday morning.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

Holly Hurd-Forsyth from Peaks Island keeps her head down against the cold wind as she walks to work Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013.

Kristin O'Brien from Portland was one of many pedestrians who braved the cold and wind Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013.

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