Severe winter weather conditions are typically characterized by low temperatures, strong winds, and large quantities of snow. Possible types of winter storms in Maine include:
Blizzards: Sustained winds or frequent gusts of thirty five miles per hour; falling or blowing snow with visibility less than a quarter mile for greater than three hours.
Ice storms: Rain that freezes upon impact; ice coating at least one-half inch in thickness and is heavy enough to damage trees, overhead wires, and similar objects, and produce widespread power outages.
Sleet storms: One half inch or more of frozen rain drops (ice pellets) which bounce when hitting the ground.
Snow Storms: Seven inches or more within twelve hours OR ten inches or more within twenty four hours.
The entire State is vulnerable to severe winter storms every winter. During winter months, Maine often has heavy snowfall, or snow combined with high winds, freezing rain or ice storms. The snowfall season usually runs from late October (in the north) or November (most of the rest of the State) to April and sometimes into May. Total seasonal snowfall ranges between 50 and 80 inches on the coast, between 60 to 90 inches in the southern part of the state and 90 to 110-plus inches in the north. Coastal areas are also susceptible to tide surges and flooding when high winds accompany coastal storms.
Notable Winter Storms
The Ice Storm of 1998: Beginning Jan 5 and lasting though Jan 25, residents experienced effects from freezing rain, high winds, snow and ice, with over half of the state living without power at its peak. The storm caused over $140 million in damages and a Presidential disaster declaration.
The February 2013 Blizzard: Maine received record snowfalls on Friday Feb. 8 through Saturday Feb 9. Gorham had the most amount of snow in the state, reporting 35.5 inches. The storm was particularly hard to overcome with its high winds, historic snowfall and its duration, lasting approximately 36 hours. President Obama approved the state’s request for a Presidential disaster declaration after the storm caused over $3.5 million in damages and response costs in four counties.
The National Weather Service sends out weather advisories which are widely distributed via radio and television. Accurate public information, including recommended actions to prepare for adverse weather conditions continue to be extremely effective in preventing loss of life and minimizing property damages during a storm.
Citizens should keep posted on weather conditions and prepare early for anticipated severe storms. These preparations should include an adequate supply of food, fuel, medical items, battery powered radio, and flashlight. Adequate insulation and winter proofing of homes will also increase comfort during cold weather and storms.
Maine DOT is responsible for removing snow from roads as well as treating the snowy and/or icy roads with salt/chemicals during and after a snow storm. It is important for citizens to stay indoors and off the roads until roadways are clear and safe.