Cooler weather returns now that much snow has melted

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PORTLAND — People who overindulged on sweets and treats over the holidays won’t be able to work those extra calories off by cross-country skiing. Not in southern Maine, at least.

All of that early season snow melted away with record-setting warmth and heavy rain during Christmas week, prompting some people to abandon their ski vacations and leaving many cross-country ski areas with bare ground at a time when the white stuff should be piling up.

Matt Delamater at Carter’s Cross-Country Ski Center in Oxford said he was resorting to drastic measures in hopes of getting some snow this weekend.

“We’re doing the snow dance,” he joked.

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Winter came early with a whopper of a snowstorm at Thanksgiving that knocked out power for thousands of Mainers. But December brought buckets of rain, particularly in southern Maine.

Pineland Farms, which operates an outdoors recreation center in New Gloucester, groomed some trails for cross-country skiing over the long Thanksgiving Day weekend.

But on Monday, joggers were using those same trails.

“All of our trails are open for running,” Lizzie Mitchell said, providing a positive view of the situation.

Victoria Foley of Portland, who’d hoped to go cross-country skiing, said the lack of snow is disappointing but that people may as well enjoy warmer-weather activities while they can — “because the cold weather is-a-coming.”

By Monday, the temperature had dipped back into the 30s in southern Maine after last week’s record warmth. Bangor set a record of 54 degrees on Christmas Day.

There’s still plenty of snow to the north and the downhill ski areas seemed to be doing just fine.

Jeff Cole, a skier from Scarborough, said he knows of some families who canceled their Christmas week ski vacations, but he said conditions are actually good at most ski mountains.

Matt Siekman, a skier from Auburn, said there’s no reason to panic.

“This isn’t the first year that we’ve had a freeze and thaw. This is pretty standard New England weather and we’ll be headed into a deep freeze soon,” he said.

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