Despite wind chills well below zero, central Maine residents were dutifully getting about their business on Tuesday.

Tuesday afternoon highs were 12 degrees in Augusta, but wind chill values — driven by 10 to 15 mph wind with gusts up to 45 mph — were hovering around zero. The temperature was expected to rise to 17 degrees into Wednesday, but wind chills will be more harsh at -16 degrees. The wind is expected to break, and warmer temperatures will enter Thursday.

Wayne Bumford puts his sneakers on Tuesday while warming up at Bridging The Gap in Augusta. Bumford said he’s been relying on the heat at the center on Route 17 since he moved into a homeless shelter in November, but hopes to have his own apartment soon. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

In Farmington, the temperature was a little lower with a -10 degree wind chill value on Tuesday, which could drop to -20 on Wednesday. Wind chills only got chillier looking north, expected to reach -28 degrees in Millinocket and -33 degrees in Frenchville on Wednesday.

As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, Midcoast, central and southern Maine were under a wind advisory, while northern, eastern and western Maine were under a wind chill advisory.

Despite these cold temperatures, weather service meteorologist Eric Schwibs said the current weather is “par for the course.”

“You get these cold outbreaks (that) happen every winter,” he said. “The door is wide open for arctic air to come into the area.”

The frigid wind chills did not phase Gail Schade, who was out for a walk on Hallowell’s Town Farm Road. She said the cold weather was an unwelcome surprise compared to weather where she was recently vacationing in the Caribbean.

Gail Schade walks through 20 mph wind Tuesday as temperatures hover around 15 degrees near her home in Hallowell. Clad in a down jacket and slippers, Schade, 80, said she’s been training and running since she was in her 30s and likes a little conditioning in cooler temperatures. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

“I’m a slave to my FitBit,” she laughed. “I … just got back from Grand Cayman Island where it was 84 (degrees.)”

Schade said the weather was “beautiful” and she went on two walks on Tuesday in between games of Mahjong.

“If you dress right, you’re fine,” she said. “It’s beautiful out today, as long as you’re not walking against the wind.”

Contractor Brad Ellis and a crew of workers from his company BHS Inc. were working through the wind chills to continue work on a house on Maple Street in Farmingdale.

“It’s a little nippy,” Ellis said in a brief phone call on Tuesday. “The wind the last couple of days has been interesting.

Ellis said there was “no such thing” as days off for the cold.

Director of Bridging the Gap Sarah Miller said the organization’s warming center on Eastern Avenue was no busier than usual on Tuesday. She said the cold weather can actually have a negative impact on attendance.

“We do serve individuals who do have homes,” she said. “Rather than coming out (when it’s cold) they choose to stay at home.”

Miller said the Kennebec Explorer bus service recently added the warming center as a stop which had a positive impact on attendance during the weekdays.

Augusta Police Sgt. Christian Behr said an officer visited warming centers today, but no calls have come in for cold-related welfare checks.

Just across the New Hampshire border, Monday wind on Mount Washington were record-breaking. A peak wind gust of 171 mph beat the previous February wind record of 166 mph set in 1972. The Associated Press reported that it was the strongest wind recorded in any month since 1985.

Last winter, during a polar vortex that encompassed the northern United States, record-setting cold was recorded in Augusta and Portland. On Dec. 28, 2017, a record low temperature of 9 degrees below zero was set in Augusta, breaking the previous record low of 6 below set in 1960, according to weather service data. A record low of 13 degrees below zero also was noted on Dec. 29 in Portland.

During this period, the Kennebec Journal reported that a higher-than-normal amount of area residents were inquiring at travel agencies in hopes to travel to warmer places. Former Gov. Paul LePage signed an emergency declaration that allowed heating oil delivery drivers to be on the road for longer periods of time than otherwise allowed under federal Department of Transportation rules.


Sam Shepherd — 621-5666
[email protected]
Twitter: @SamShepME

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