Tuesday brought some much-needed weather relief to a state that has been beaten down by subzero temperatures over the past two weeks.

As of 1 p.m., all the major weather reporting stations in Maine were at or above 32 degrees, with Portland and Rockland at 38 degrees, and Augusta and Waterville at 36. The only town with a higher temperature was Wiscasset at 39 degrees, according to the National Weather Service office in Gray.

Eric Schwibs, a meteorologist there, said Tuesday marked the first time in 15 days – Dec. 18 being the last – that Portland experienced a temperature higher than 32 degrees, making it the 11th longest cold spell since record-keeping began in 1940.

Schwibs said the longest cold spell of temperatures not exceeding 32 degrees in Portland was 23 consecutive days set in 2007.

“Suffice to say the pattern of extreme cold that we had been experiencing broke down today,” Schwibs said.

A westerly flow of warm air sliced through the arctic air mass that had stalled over Maine and produced a record low of 12 below zero at the Portland International Jetport at 7:35 a.m. Sunday, shattering the previous record low for Jan. 7 of 10 below set in 1941.

Temperatures for the rest of the week should remain comfortable. The high in Portland is forecast to reach 34 degrees Wednesday and 43 degrees Thursday. If temperatures climb to 48 degrees Friday in Portland – the current forecast – it would represent a temperature swing of 58 degrees from Sunday morning.

Although the moderate temperatures may seem nice for now, Mainers should brace for more foul weather. Rain and fog are in the forecast for Thursday and Friday, and there could be some icing Saturday. “Saturday is going to be a sloppy day for sure,” Schwibs said.

He said communities north and west of Portland could see a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain Saturday.

Arctic air will also begin to filter into Maine this weekend, producing extremely cold weather next week, Schwibs said.

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

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