Allison Upham and her fiance, Michael Braiser, who have been living in a tent, select clothing Wednesday at the Pleasant Street Drop-in Center at the First Universalist Church, 169 Pleasant St. in Auburn. “We bury ourselves under a mountain of blankets,” Braiser said. A bus provided by the YMCA of Auburn-Lewiston will be at the center at 4 p.m. Friday and at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday to bring people to the Auburn Housing Authority’s warming shelter at its Family Development Center on Valerie Circle. The center will open at noon Friday and remain open — including overnights — until noon Sunday. The buses will drop everyone off at the Pleasant Street Drop-in Center at noon Sunday. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

With extreme cold air coming in over the next few days, weather forecasters were not mincing words. 

“I am going to be clear here,” wrote Mike Haggett of Pine Tree Weather. “We are now heading into survival mode. It’s not about convenience or lifestyle choices here. This type of cold will kill people who are underprepared or refuse to acknowledge the severity of it. Frostbite in five minutes, hypothermia within a half hour. Now is the time to touch base with the vulnerable folks to make sure they are ready for what is coming.” 

Around the state, city and town officials were thinking along the same lines. Over the past few days, most area police, fire and rescue departments issued warnings or warned about the coming cold one way or another.  

The Oxford County Sheriff’s Office put out a reminder Wednesday, along with tips for dealing with intense cold. They also provided a list of warming shelters around the state. 

“Cover up,” the office wrote on its Facebook page. “It’s gonna be wicked cold, bub.” 

The Buckfield Fire Department did the same, including some extra tips for those managing livestock. 


“Time to cozy up!” it wrote. “The next few days will not be fit for man or beast. If you’ve got early calves, foals, or lambs make sure they’ve got extra bedding and are out of the winds this weekend. Check on those neighbors. Keep heating appliances away from anything combustible. Sunday dawns a sunny and warmer week ahead.” 

The town of Greene issued its own warnings and offered up its fire station as a warming shelter. The town of Canton did the same, as did many other municipalities around the area. 

By Wednesday, the cold snap was being regarded as a potentially deadly affair and weather experts say that is exactly the right way to think of it. 

“The kind of cold and wind chills we are expecting can cause frostbite in just 5 to 10 minutes,” wrote the National Weather Service in Gray, on their Facebook page. 

The most brutal cold is expected to blow in Friday when temperatures “drop like a missile,” according to Haggett. Add 30-40 mph winds to those frigid conditions and the numbers start to look surreal. 

Over a 48 to 60-hour period, temperatures are expected to drop below zero just about everywhere across the state. Some forecasts call for temperatures to plummet to -16 degrees in some areas by Friday night.


But those temperatures tell only half the story. With wind chill factored in, we’re looking at conditions that dip down to almost unimaginable lows: minus 56 is forecast for some western and northern parts of the state, while the Lewiston area is expected to see apparent temperatures at about minus 41 degrees. 

Haggett deemed the coming cold as an Arctic front “that will be remembered for a long time.”


For anyone stuck outside, this is the kind of cold that can be fatal. With that in mind, warming centers were being set up in some areas. 

Auburn will open a 48-hour warming shelter in partnership with the Auburn Housing Authority at the authority’s Family Development Center on Valerie Circle. The center will open at noon Friday and remain open — including overnights — until noon Sunday. 

Free transportation to the warming center will be available through the YMCA of Auburn-Lewiston. The pickup location will be the First Universalist Church of Auburn at 169 Pleasant St. Pickup times will be at 4 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday, and 3 p.m. Saturday. 


“The center will also be easily accessible via the Citylink bus service, which has stops nearby,” according to a city news release. “Auburn’s Community Development team and the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine will staff the center, and security will be on-site. Organizers also plan to provide food for those who use the warming center.” 

The Greene Fire Station, at 106 Patten Road, will be used as a warming station from Friday to Sunday. Anyone who needs shelter in that area can call 207-576-8035 to make arrangements.

The Rural Community Action Ministries in Leeds did the same and can be reached at 207-524-5095.

In Oxford County, the Canton fire station was being offered up as a shelter. 

“With the extreme cold coming we will utilize the fire station as a warming shelter if the need arises,” according to the department’s Facebook page. “You can contact Chief Jason Vaughan at 357-0162 and we will make arrangements.” 

Lewiston, too, was continuing its efforts to keep its residents warm and safe as the intense cold moves in. The Trinity Jubilee Center on Spruce Street was expected to remain open over the weekend, for instance, with hot breakfast and lunch available. 


“In Lewiston, there are several resources for the unhoused and also in anticipation of this weekend’s predicted cold weather,” Angelynn Amores, Lewiston’s director of marketing and communication, said. “We have a program called Project Support You in which a trained crisis and mental health worker partners with the police to assist those in need. We also have Navigators who assist those as they move through General Assistance helping them apply to short-term grants for housing among other duties. We worked with Save a Lot who donated up to 100 winter coats and vests to Calvary United Methodist. Partnering with Community Concepts and Immigration Resource Center of Maine, we helped to secure funds from the county for the warming shelter at Calvary United Methodist, 59 Sabattus St., Lewiston.” 

Also in Lewiston, Hope Haven Gospel Mission at 209 Lincoln St. was listed as a shelter for some homeless, although space is limited. They can be reached at 207-783-6086. St. Martin De Porres, too, at 23 Bartlett St. was listed as an emergency shelter. They are at 207-786-4690.

At SeniorsPlus, workers were taking extra pains to make sure the heating needs of their older clients, who are more susceptible to the cold, were being met.

“I sent out to my whole team today a reminder that every chance they have, when they’re talking to one of our older adults, to remind them that this cold weather is coming and that they should have a backup plan just in case their furnace breaks down or something goes awry,” Betsy Sawyer-Manter, president and CEO of SeniorsPlus, said. “We don’t want them using ovens or things like that to heat their homes.”

She said many of the seniors are already setting their thermostats way down low in order to save oil costs. The SeniorsPlus workers are looking out to make sure those homes don’t become dangerously cold during the coming cold snap.

“It’s going to be a rough couple of days for people,” Sawyer-Manter said.


A full list of warming shelters around the state can be found on the Maine Emergency Management Agency website. Also on the website is a page advising how water pipes can be prevented from freezing as well as other tips for enduring the cold. 

Some businesses that offer outdoor activity were also monitoring the weather, including Saddleback Mountain, the ski area in Rangeley, which was said to be assessing its plans.

“We are preparing for this arctic front that’s approaching Friday night into Saturday,” according to the daily mountain report. “This cold air coming from our northern neighbors arrives Friday and we’ll see below zero temps. We are assessing operational plans for Saturday, so please check the Mountain Report before making plans.”

The coming deep freeze will be in part the result of the now notorious polar vortex, a meteorological phenomenon that is often misunderstood. Haggett provides a deep explanation for the development of this kind of cold on his website. But mostly, he was just advising people to take the cold seriously and offering advice on how to do so. 

“Try to get everything you need by Thursday as temperatures drop like a missile on Friday,” Haggett wrote. “If you have to go anywhere on Saturday, you need to be prepared in case you break down or get to your destination and can’t start your vehicle again. If you have livestock, you know the drill. If you have sensitive pipes, be careful with them. If you lose power due to down tree limbs or grid overload, make sure you are ready for that. Anything can happen here, be ready for it.” 

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