Wicked Winter Weather Part 1: Snow/Ice Storms

Updated 3 years ago

Mainers are a hearty breed of people. There’s no better proof of this than taking a look at some of the harsh winter weather conditions we typically see here in the Pine Tree State.Snow measured on the order of feet with drifts that easily bury cars. Ice glazed over every surface, creating a beautiful coating of danger. These are just a few of the many things that people remember about wicked winters in Maine.“Last winter we got a really bad storm. It was up to my knees at my house.”“Back in the early 60’s we got a lot of snow.”“We had a few last year that brought the snow up and above the deck.”“1963. The Blizzard of 1963.”“The worst was in ’62 and we had about 3 feet.”Indeed it was the 60’s that had two of the most memorable snowstorms to ever strike Maine. At the end of December 1962, a low pressure system brought a record 40 inches of the white stuff to Orono in only 24 hours. Snow totals of only a few inches near Portland and Lewiston couldn’t compare to as much as 46 inches of snow near the Millinocket area. With drifts as high as 20 feet on highways, the Bangor Daily News could not publish an edition for the first time in 128 years due to the storm of ‘62. Before the decade was out, another memorable storm struck in February 1969. This storm, also known as the “100-year storm in 100 hours,” pounded much of southern Maine. Barely an inch of snow fell near Caribou, while Old Town reported nearly 44 inches from this storm. But what’s the most amount of snow you’ve ever seen in Maine?“About 18 inches.”“Couple feet?”“I guess about 4 feet.””Most snow? I would say about 10 inches.”“He grew up in Maine & there was snow up to his head.”Believe it or not, some of the highest snowfall totals we’ve seen for a season in the Pine Tree State, were well over 100 inches. Even along the coastline, nearly 121 inches for a season fell down in Bar Harbor. Nearly 182 inches in Bangor. Up towards the Greenville area, 225 inches in a single season is the record high there. 152 inches in Millinocket. But as far as a single storm is concerned, that record is still held by the Blizzard of 1969. They saw 56 inches of the white stuff in Long Dam Falls. But as Mainers know, it doesn’t have to be snow to be memorable.“1998. Ice Storm.”“I certainly remember The Ice Storm.”“A lot of power outage for 4 or 5 days.”“I remember the Ice Storm of 1998.”“Oh yeah. I remember that one well””Mass of moisture sliding north. There’s just no way we can escape this.”As warm air aloft battled cold air at the surface for a series of days in January of 1998, 1-3 inches of ice began to build on nearly every exposed surface. Periods of snow, freezing rain and drizzle, sub-zero temperatures in northern areas, strong winds, and dangerous wind chills all combined to make for an unforgettable storm in Maine. The entire state was declared a disaster area after trees and power lines became unable to support the weight of the ice-buildup and knocked power out to nearly 70% of Maine. Some people were left without electricity for up to three weeks. When all was said and done, the Ice Storm of ’98 was responsible for 5 deaths and over $300 million worth of damage.You can find some more information about some of the records and storms on Rob’s facebook fan page, “Rob Lydick WABI,” here.In Part 2 of this series, we’ll take a look at some of the bitter cold conditions that also make Maine’s winters so wicked. Don’t miss it!


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