Matt Sabasteanski, director of Pineland Farm’s Outdoor Recreation Center, was all smiles with snow falling Sunday and forecast for Tuesday and Thursday.

“There’s more snow falling than predicted,” he said.

Only 1 inch was expected Sunday, but at 1 p.m., “we’ve got a few inches. Love it!”

So far this winter, Pineland in New Gloucester has been open for skiing on only about 33 days, well behind pace of the 80 ski days in a typical season. Last winter, Pineland had just 47 days of skiing.

Winter is late this year, Sabasteanski said, “but it’s here now.”

A storm forecast for Tuesday could deliver up to 6 inches of snow, with more possibly to come later in the week, said Meteorologist Stephen Baron at the National Weather Service in Gray.

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But through Feb. 25, Portland had received just 35.3 inches this winter.

“A year ago by this point we had 52.3 inches of snow,” said Baron. And last year was considered a low-snow winter.

Wild swings of cold and warm days have been mostly to blame.

Kids sled down a hill at the Eastern Prom on Sunday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Portland recorded its warmest January on record last month, averaging 31.5 degrees, more than one degree higher than the old mark of 30.4 set in 2002.

Then on Feb. 4, the city nearly broke a cold weather record with a reading of minus-14 degrees and a windchill of 45 below zero, only to see temperatures rebound into the 40s a few days later.

That played havoc for outdoor ice conditions, which still have a ways to go.

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On Sunday, and during the recent February school vacation, ice was unsafe for skating at Portland’s Deering Oaks, Ludlow and Payson ponds. The new snow will insulate what ice is there and keep it from freezing enough to skate, said Keith Forest, who monitors the ponds for the Portland Parks and Recreation Department.

“It’s far worse than last year, and last year was warm,” Forest said.

Typically, the city’s ponds have enough ice for 30 to 60 days of skating by this time of year, Forest said.

“This year we had only 20 days for Ludlow and Deering Oaks,” he said, while Payson Park’s skating surface has only been open for two days.

Duncan Scott and Becky Scott cross country ski at Smiling Hill Farm on Sunday. The Scotts, who live in South Portland, said they try to get out and ski a few times a year, but there just hasn’t been enough snow most of the time this winter. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographe

“It’s been a very hard year,” Forest said.

It’s a similar story in other parts of Maine.

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On Sebago Lake, the ice fishing derby scheduled for Feb. 18-19 was called off due to a lack of ice.

“The ice conditions are pathetic, at best,” Lt. Jason Luce of the Maine Warden Service said on Feb. 18. “Obviously we’ve had an unusually warm winter. Sebago Lake has no ice. No ice! You could float a boat on 99 percent of the lake.”

At Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook, cross country trails are open after being closed much of the winter.

Duncan Scott of South Portland cross country skied Sunday with his wife, Becky Scott, and his mother, who was visiting from South Carolina.

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Scott said he was worried there wouldn’t be any no snow when his mother arrived in Maine. But snow fell in time.

“We got lucky,” Scott said, adding it’s nice to get outdoors and break cabin fever. “Trail conditions are perfect,” he said.

Farther north, at Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley, temperatures have stayed just cold enough and the downhill skiing has been more consistent.

The ski area has received 116 inches of snow so far, said spokesman Ethan Austin.

“We’ve lucked out,” he said. “The skiing’s been good and we’ve been able to make a lot of snow.”

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