Laci Lee, the manager of Portland’s Mount Desert Ice Cream, walked in front of her shop’s giant glass windows and said something that would have seemed very odd a couple of days ago: “I’m going to get out of the sun,” Lee said. “I can’t believe I’m saying that.”

Lee was one of many Mainers adjusting to their new reality Tuesday as the state breaks out of its deep freeze. Temperatures hovered near 40 early Tuesday afternoon and the sun was dazzling under mostly sunny skies.

It’s not just your imagination – it’s been unusually cold.

Tuesday marked the first time in 15 days that Portland experienced a temperature warmer than 32 degrees, making it the 11th-longest cold stint since 1948, according to the National Weather Service.

Signs of the midseason melt were abundant.

Chunks of snow and ice fell from Old Port rooftops; sidewalks ebbed into deep puddles at intersections with roads; Wharf Street turned into a dark brown mixture of water, ice and road salt.


And Mount Desert Ice Cream opened for the first time in January with a deal for customers: half-priced pints of ice cream to celebrate the warm weather. After spending the last two weeks deep cleaning the store – “there’s hot fudge in places you would never expect there to be hot fudge,” Lee said – a steady stream of people walked by on the sidewalk.

“We want to bring people in and let them know we’re here,” Lee said. “We’ve been here seven years and there are people around the corner that still don’t know we’re here.”

A block away at Gelato Fiasco, the front door to the shop was swung wide open for a delivery, but the shop still felt plenty warm.

Longtime employee Nam Pho got ready to open the shop, knowing that for the first time in 15 days, he won’t be offering discounts. Customers get a percentage point off their orders for each degree the temperature is below 32. An iPhone next to the register keeps tab on the current temperature at all times. Customers over the weekend got a whopping 39 percent off their orders as temperatures plummeted Saturday night, Pho said.

“It’s a thank you for the audacity of some of our customers to come out and enjoy frozen treats when it’s still cold out,” he said.

Pho, who moved here from Atlanta to study at the Maine College of Art, said he likes the less-hectic pace in the shop during winter and says he sees more locals and regular customers during the winter.


“I look forward to it,” Pho said. “Everybody here waits for summer, but I love the winter. I love the solidarity of it in the winter. We’re all in it together. And I love the quiet of it.”

The stretch from Jan. 11-24 is the coldest two weeks of the winter, on average. Portland looks to be better than average the next few days, with temperatures topping out near 50 degrees Friday.

Then, however, winter will come back.

Meteorologists say another ice storm could hit Maine on Saturday, and high temperatures are predicted to dive back into the 20s next week.

Lee said she’s fine with the upcoming temperature dip. Her honeymoon trip to Aruba starts Friday.

James Patrick can be contacted at 791-6382 or at:

Twitter: @mesofunblog

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