Maine experienced its coldest weather in two years Monday, leaving some motorists stranded because of dead batteries and plumbers scurrying to keep up with frozen-pipe calls.

Temperatures around the state dropped to the negative teens and twenties, National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Kistner said. Fryeburg recorded the coldest temperatures in Maine early Monday morning: a frigid -30 degrees. Thermometers registered -25 in North Sebago, and -17 in Durham.

Strong winds added to the deep-freeze feel. “The wind blowing made it pretty rough,” Kistner said.

The low temperature for Lewiston on Monday was a relatively tolerable -10 degrees, but the city “did have some consistently high winds,” he said, meaning that local temperatures adjusted for wind chill ranged between -32 and -35.

The Siberia-like weather is the coldest since January of 2009, Kistner said. “Last year was fairly mild. The coldest it got in Portland was -1,” he said.

No doubt, some wish temperatures had stayed in that zone.

Calls to AAA-Northern New England, the auto insurance and service company, spiked as  batteries across the region lacked the oomph to start vehicles, spokesman Pat Moody told Craig Crosby of the Kennebec Journal. “We’re averaging about 400 calls every 30 minutes,” Moody said.

Reggie Leclerc of Lewiston, of Reggie Leclerc Plumbing and Repairs, said he responded to five “freeze-ups” on Monday alone. Other plumbers he has talked to are busy as well, he said. “Everybody’s working overtime.”

“The ground’s freezing deeper than usual,” Leclerk said, adding that this winter he has seen several frozen wells, a rare occurrence. In these cases, a well-drilling company must be called because Leclerk’s business is not equipped to deal with frozen wells. “God help us all if this keeps up another week,” he said.

As clouds roll in during the next few days, temperatures are expected to rise, although they were still below zero Monday night, the weather service’s Kistner said. And the somewhat warmer temperatures are likely to come with another round of snow, up to a foot on Wednesday and Thursday if the storm heads inland from the coast, he said.

If the storm sticks along the coast, Lewiston-Auburn won’t get as much snow, but the state’s eastern regions will still see a heavy snowfall, Kistner said.

While the weather service’s forecasting models haven’t been completely accurate over the last few storms — last week’s squall deposited more snow than predicted — they have been getting closer, Kistner said. Right now, “the models are leaning toward a westerly track,” he said. “We could see a winter storm warning by morning.”


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