We love it, we hate it. We compliment it, we complain about it. We escape it, we embrace it. The weather, in all its many forms, reigns supreme here in Maine. And taking 2018 as a whole, the weather stood out for its warmth, its humidity, and a shot of shocking cold and snow in November that tended to even things out.

According to the National Weather Service in Portland, 2018 was the fourth consecutive year of above-normal temperatures overall, with the average temperature for the year at 47.5 degrees, 1.0 degree above normal.

It included a handful of recording-breaking daily hot temperatures, two months that were the hottest on record, and some extended humidity in August the likes of which have never been seen here in Maine.

It’s interesting to note that the final spring freeze of 2018 in this region was about a week earlier than usual and the first fall freeze was about 10 days later. This resulted in the year having the fifth-longest growing season on record.

2018 was also the first year in the last four years of above-normal precipitation, with 5 more inches of rain than normal.

The heat trend included the months of February and August being the warmest ever recorded, and two days — one in February and one in June (see the Record-Breaking Days box) — that were the hottest ever recorded for their respective months. On nine days in 2018 the temperature reached 90 degrees or higher.

The record-hot month of August not only kept Mainers toasty but sweating, with prolonged, unusual humidity and five record-breaking warm nights when the temperature never went below 70 degrees.

WCSH Meteorologist Keith Carson noted, “I think the surprise story of the year was the warmest summer on record for Portland. It was almost the most humid summer on record going back to the 1940s when they started keeping records for ‘dew point.’ Certainly the humidity was the thing people noticed the most.”

The cold yang to the year’s warm yin hit hardest in November, however. The month featured three daily record-cold days, the coldest temperature ever recorded in a November (on Thanksgiving), and 14 more inches of snow than normal.

That was the worst of the cold, but the year also offered area residents an April that was the coldest on record in 15 years, the first freeze of the fall coming in October about six weeks earlier than normal, five record-breaking or record-tying coldest temperatures, and the eighth consecutive year of above-normal snowfall with 91.8 inches falling — 29.9 inches above normal.

When asked about the pattern of continued warmth and the matter of climate change, Carson responded: “It’s important to realize climate change is more than about just one month or one year. It’s about decades-long trends. That being said, I think it helps to bring it home to Mainers when we have the warmest summer on record, going back to the 1880s.

“There will be hot months and there will be cold months, but as climate change continues its march we will continue to have more record highs than record lows and more above-average months than below-average,” Carson said. “We’ve been seeing that for many years now in Maine, and it continued this year.”

Writer and editor Karen Schneider has been a regular contributor to the Lewiston Sun Journal for over 20 years. Contact her at [email protected]

Kayci Cass, right, soaks up the sun while floating in Middle Range Pond in Poland, in this file photo taken on Aug. 6, 2018, as her daughter, Cydney, 10, stands on the shoulders of her father, Patrick. The outing was in the middle of a record-breaking heat and humidity spell. (Sun Journal file photo by Russ Dillingham)

Record-breaking days in 2018

The following records were broken in Portland in 2018 for the specific day noted:

Jan. 1: -17° — coldest

Jan. 7: -12° — coldest

Feb. 21: 68° — hottest (also hottest February day ever recorded)

February: 31.6° average temperature — warmest February on record

April 25: 1.31 inches — most rain

June 18: 91° — hottest (also hottest June day ever recorded)

July 4: 93° — hottest

Aug. 7: 93° — hottest (tied with 2001)

August: 72.2° average temperature — warmest August on record

Sept. 6: 92° — hottest

Oct. 10: 84° — hottest

Nov. 15: 15° — coldest (tied)

Nov. 20: 7.1 inches — snowiest on record

Nov. 22: 6° — coldest

Nov. 23: 4° — coldest (also coldest November day ever recorded)

Source: National Weather Service

A group of runners brave the snowstorm and go for a run on Lincoln Street in Lewiston on March 13, 2018 in this file photo. Thirty-three inches of snow fell in March 2018, 20 inches more than normal. (Sun Journal file photo by Andree Kehn)

Hot August nights

August 2018 in Maine was the hottest on record. If the heat wasn’t memorable enough, many people will recall the humidity, which was intense, prolonged and more like what you would expect in the South.

Among the proof of the month’s standout heat:

* On Aug. 7, temperatures reached 93 degrees, the hottest on record (tied with 2001).

* That same day the lowest temperature recorded for the 24-hour period was a balmy 71 degrees, a record.

* The next day, Aug. 8, the low temperature for the day was again 71 degrees, setting another heat record.

* The following day, Aug. 9: the temperature never got lower than 70 degrees, tying the record for that day.

* On Aug. 29, the low temperature was a toasty 71 degrees, setting another record.

* The five days between Aug. 2 and Aug. 9 when the temperatures in Portland didn’t drop below 70 degrees set a record for consecutive warm nights.

For the month of August, the average temperature was 72.2 degrees, 4.2 degrees above normal, making the month the warmest on record.

Monthly highlights of 2018

January

The first day of 2018 dawned in the midst of a record-breaking seven-day cold snap. The low for Jan. 1 was 17 degrees below zero, the coldest temperature recorded in Portland since 1994, when it was only 1 degree colder. Coldest average daily temperature records were also set on Jan. 2, 6 and 7. Then the temperature reached 30 degrees on the 4th, with winds notching up to 52 miles per hour and dumping a foot of snow on the area in two days. The cold air that followed ensured that the deep snow stuck around for a while.

February

The warmest February on record had an average temperature of 31.6 degrees, 6.1 degrees above normal, with only a few wintry interruptions. Feb. 3, the coldest day of the month, was 2 degrees. Then a warming trend, along with rain, made short work of the snow brought in by two storms. Feb. 21, with its high of 68 degrees, went into the record books as the warmest February day ever. The month closed out with temperatures in the 50s.

March

A nor’easter brought in more than 15 inches of snow on March 7 and 8 — the biggest of the season. For good measure, another storm walloped us barely a week later with 14 inches more. Colder temperatures moved in behind this storm, but the last three days of March were in the 50s, with March 30 topping out at 58 degrees. For the month, 33 inches of snow fell — a whopping 20.3 inches above normal — making it the seventh snowiest March on record.

April

While the temperature briefly climbed to 60 degrees early in the month, cold air caused April 15 to set a temperature record for the day when it only climbed to 33 degrees. The day included sleet and freezing rain, quite uncommon for that late in the season. Despite temperatures warming up, with six out of seven days near the end of the month topping 60 degrees, the average temperature for April was 41.8 degrees, 2.2 degrees below normal.

May

May 2 gave the area a true taste of summer when the temperature rose to 90 degrees as a warm air mass moved in from the Midwest. It was the first day of the year that temperatures rose above 60 degrees in the region, and gave us the second earliest 90-degree reading on record. A few more glimmers of summer followed, with temperatures ranging from 79 to 88 degrees. The month was also the driest in more than 50 years, with rainfall 3.22 inches below normal.

June

The month started out cool — the temperature didn’t reach 65 degrees for five days — but June hinted at the heat and humidity to come with periods of stickiness and a record-breaking 91 degrees on June 18, making it the warmest June day ever. A cold front then brought thunderstorms with more than an inch of rain, but as the month ended a shift in the weather pattern brought more warm, humid air into New England from the southwest.

July

The hot, humid weather stayed with us, setting a heat record of 93 degrees on July 4 and continuing for a few more days. Periods of cooler, drier weather followed, bringing brief respites from the heat through the middle of the month. The average temperature for June was 70.9 degrees — 1.8 degrees above normal. It was the third straight month of below-normal precipitation with less than 2 inches of rainfall.

August

Hot and humid! The area experienced an extended period with daytime highs sometimes topping 90 degrees and consistently warm nights, a sign of abnormally high humidity. For eight straight days, from Aug. 2 to 9, temperatures didn’t drop below 65, including five days when the temperature didn’t drop below 70, setting a record for consecutive warm nights. Cold fronts brought cooler air and some rainfall mid-month, but heat and humidity swung back around. By the end, it was the warmest August on record in Portland, with its average temperature of 72.2 degrees coming in 4.2 degrees above normal.

September

With temperatures in the 90s twice during the first week, the month continued the warmth and humidity of August. A cool spell passed through mid-month, but after a few days of rain, Portland saw more days in the 80s as the warm flow from the tropics continued. Cooler weather prevailed for the next week or so, with some end-of-the-month warming. The average temperature was 63.6 degrees, 3.5 degrees above normal. A total of 5.78 inches of rain fell, 2.09 inches above normal.

October

A topsy-turvy month. The temperature topped 80 degrees on Oct. 9 and was a record 84 on the 10th. But just a week later we experienced the first freeze of the season on the 18th — 6 weeks earlier than normal. Frequent cloudy, wet weather led to many cool days and nights, with the average temperature finishing below normal for the first time in nine years. The last several warm Octobers made this one seem especially cold; October 2018 was more than 8 degrees colder than 2017.

November

Who could forget last November’s cold and snow? It started around the 15th, when the high didn’t get above freezing. The first snowstorm of the season arrived on the 16th with more than 6 inches of snow. More snow fell on the 20th. An arctic air mass then moved into the region for Thanksgiving, with a record low 6 degrees making it the coldest November day ever. The 7 inches of snow on the ground also tied a record. More cold, then snow and rain, followed. November went into the books as the 5th snowiest, the 5th coldest and the 2nd wettest on record. A total of 15.9 inches of snow fell, 14 inches above normal.

December

The warmth that characterized much of 2018 returned in early December, fled for 10 days, and returned mid-month. More than 4 inches of snow fell on the 17th, but with the warm temperatures, it didn’t stay for long. In fact, a rainstorm on the 21st brought temperatures into the mid-50s, washing away the remainder of the snow. The average temperature was 29.7, about 1 degree above normal but more than 6 degrees warmer than the very cold December of last year.

Thank you

A special thank to the following people for their assistance gathering the data for this package:

* Jessica Spaccio, climatologist with the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science in the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University

* WCSH Meteorologist Keith Carson

* National Weather Service forecaster Chris Kimble and the NWS annual report


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