Record-breaking cold weather to hit Maine

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With the potentially record-breaking low temperatures about to hit Maine, National Weather Service meteorologist Margaret Curtis is advising that people “just stay warm.” 

Curtis said to expect highs in the single digits and lows below zero. 

“There are very cold temperatures coming in,” she said. 

The highest temperature forecasted in the next four days in the Lewiston/Auburn area is 7 degrees. The lowest? Minus 14. 

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Thursday is forecasted to be the coldest day, with a high of 2 and low of -14.

According to the National Weather Service, the normal high for that day is 34 and the normal low is 16 for the Portland area, with a record low of -9.

If the temperatures drop as much as expected, both the record low and minimum high temperature records could be broken, according to the National Weather Service. 

Areas farther north, such as Rangeley, will be even colder with a Thursday high of -7, with a windchill warning of -20 degrees. 

Heating oil in central Maine is currently priced between $2.43 and $2.59. For anyone who uses oil to heat their home or water, it might be a good time to fill up. 

Temperatures this cold can also lead to health problems, including frostbite and hypothermia, which should be treated immediately. 

Warning signs of hypothermia include confusion, shivering, difficulty speaking, sleepiness and stiff muscles.

People exposed to extreme cold are susceptible to frostbite in a matter of minutes, especially in uncovered area like hands and feet.  

The advice for dressing in for extreme cold? Dress in layers, including insulation, a warm hat and gloves, waterproof boots, a face mask and an outer layer.

“Be careful if you’re outside,” Curtis said. “If you have animals that normally sleep outside, this might be a time to bring them into the barn or the house.” 

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends washing and drying your pet’s feet and stomach after walks or being outside to remove ice, salt and chemicals. You can massage petroleum jelly or other paw protection before going outside to avoid irritation.

The ASPCA also advises giving your animals a warm place to sleep. 

Temperatures this cold can freeze buildings’ pipes, often causing them to burst and cause flooding.

To prevent freezing pipes, the American Red cross they recommend insulating pipes with heat tape or newspaper and keeping cabinet doors open to allow warmer air to circulate around plumbing. The Red Cross also recommends letting cold water drip from faucets connected to exposed pipes. Letting water run through the pipe, even at a trickle, helps prevent freezing.

To thaw a frozen pipe, keep the faucet open and apply heat to the frozen section until full water pressure is restored. If you cannot find or access the frozen area, call a licensed plumber.

With below-freezing temperatures, it is recommended to keep your thermostat set to the same temperature during the day and night. If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees. 

Extremely cold weather can also affect drivers and pedestrians. 

Lewiston Public Works Director Dave Jones recommends that drivers ensure their vehicles are properly maintained with antifreeze and windshield-washer fluid. he also recommends that drivers allow their automobiles to run for a few minutes. He said it is good for vehicles and more comfortable for the driver. 

Jones also said to dress for the weather. “If you break down or slide off the road, you will need the gear. It’s also a good idea to have a blanket or two in the trunk.”

He said that goes for pedestrians, too. 

“Earlier today, I saw a bicyclist downtown at an intersection in a kilt!” Jones said. “Not a good idea in the severe cold.”

He also said to watch for pedestrians because they are often not paying as much attention in the cold while trying to stay warm. 

Jones added that pedestrians should be extra careful because drivers cannot always see people because of high snow banks. 

Adding to the problem, Jones said, two of the three sidewalk plows operated by Lewiston Public Work are temporarily out of commission. 

“With this amount of snow, it is slow going,” he said.

Gunnar Wade of Lewiston jumps off a stump Tuesday afternoon at Lost Valley Ski Area in Auburn. It is the first time in Lost Valley’s history that all of its trails are open for Christmas break week. Round-the-clock snowmaking, cold temperatures and the Christmas Day snowstorm are to thank, according to Lost Valley officials. The area’s snow tube park is expected to open Thursday or Friday, nearly two months earlier than last season. Lost Valley opened for the season Dec. 15. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Kristen DeCastro of Falmouth gives her son Tyler a tow Tuesday afternoon after a day of skiing at Lost Valley Ski Area in Auburn. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Lewiston Parking Bans

The city of Lewiston utilizes a citywide parking ban system on a storm-by-storm basis. Vehicle owners parking on any city street when a ban is declared will receive a $32 fine and towing at their expense.

Parking garages are free to use on weekdays from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. 

The same rules apply for the municipal lots at the corner of Cedar and Lincoln streets and the lot across from Gas Light Park at 333 Lincoln St. 

On weekends, the same parking is free to use from 6 p.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Monday. 

If you park in a Lewiston parking garage during a winter parking ban, some of the time may be free and some time may not be. If you enter the parking garage after 6 p.m. and you remove your vehicle before 6 a.m. the next morning, your stay will be free. 

If you remove your vehicle after 6 a.m. on weekdays, you will be charged the regular parking fees of $1 per hour up to the daily max of $6.

Auburn Parking Bans

To utilize winter relief parking in Auburn, you must have a winter relief parking permit. These are free and are only available at the Auburn Police Department. 

Failure to obtain a permit could result in a $35 fee to the city and fees to the towing company.

Vehicles with a permit may park in the winter relief lots until midnight on the day the ban expires. After that, it is subject to towing. If the parking ban ends at midnight, you have until midnight the following day to move your vehicle. The only exception to this rule is the Mechanics Row Parking Garage.

Vehicles with winter relief parking permits may park in the yellow, orange or green permit spots in the Mechanics Row Parking Garage. On weekdays, vehicles must be removed by 7 a.m. if there is no ban in effect. If a parking ban is in effect, vehicles must be removed within an hour after the ban ends. 

Parking in city-owned lots between the hours of 12:01 a.m. and 6 a.m. is not allowed at any time except during a parking ban. 

Certain areas of the downtown are part of the Business District Zone. Vehicles parked in this zone are exempt from parking bans from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. All vehicles parked in this zone must be removed by 11 p.m. or they may be towed. 

Julie Grant and her daughter, Neveah Hagerman, enjoy a day of skiing at Lost Valley on Tuesday afternoon. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

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