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Extreme winter weather in USA, Northern New England

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Member
Registered: May 2009
Posts: 944
We're experiencing a surprisingly large change in our weather where I live (a suburb of Portland, Maine, about 130 miles north of Boston).

While Maine's winters are known to be cold, the state is actually quite large (about 400 miles from southwest to northeast), and the weather in the southwestern part of the state where I live is usually similar to the weather in adjacent areas such as Boston, upstate New York, and northeastern Pennsylvania. A typical winter would bring approximately 4 feet (1.2 meters) of snow for the whole season, and the temperature usually stays above 10-20 degrees F, most days. Intermittent warm weather usually melts all or part of the snow.

With little advance warning, we had 24-30 inches of snow from a single blizzard about 2 weeks ago. I have never seen such a violent winter storm - wind gusts were 60-70 mph, with steady winds at 30-40 mph, and almost zero visibility. During the peak of the storm, wearing a heavy winter parka I dug out our whole-house, propane-powered backup generator so it could safely run. It was completely buried under about 7 feet of drifted snow (2 meters), and it was challenging to even find the thing! I was literally blown off my feet by the wind a couple of times during that effort. It was also very cold (about 10 F), and the snow crystals were very dry and very sharp - very painful when it hits one's face during the high winds. Visibility was no more than about 25-50 feet!

Snow had blown inside the generator's rectangular housing box (about 3x4 feet x 3 feet high), filling the cooling ductwork and fan, as well as blocking the cooling air exhaust ductwork. Unfortunately, the only way to clean the ductwork is to disassemble the housing box and brush or scoop the snow out of the ductwork and fans. The snow was falling with such intensity that the generator would be covered in about one hour! I finally gave up and turned the generator off rather than risk having it implode if we lost power and it tried to start.

In the following week or so, we had more snow storms, and the total snowfall in an 8-day period was about 50 inches (1.25 meters). The snowbanks on the side of our driveway apron and road are now about 10 feet tall, where our snowplow service piles the driveway and road snow each day. Snow has drifted against our house to a height of about 7 feet (2 meters); I have to dig out our clothes dryer vent each time we need to do laundry!

On public roads, the snowbanks on the sides of the roadway are now so tall that the city plowing services are using an auxiliary wing plow blade to reduce the height of the snow banks so that new snow has a place to go when plowed! Even so, the snow banks are now about the same height as my car roof, and driving is much like driving in a tunnel.

I and my fellow residents are beginning to wonder what will happen next, with about 2 months of winter and snow remaining. There just isn't anywhere to put more snow, and another major storm is forecast to arrive starting tonight, lasting for 2-3 days. The current forecast is for another 15-18 inches (0.4 meters).

Probably our most pressing challenges are to (1) keep the house roof from collapsing from excessive snow weight), (2) prevent our house from becoming buried inside a giant snow mound, (3) avoid becoming trapped in our house if our snow plow service can't keep up with the incoming snow. It may become necessary to hire heavy construction equipment to remove some of the snow, especially in snow banks where the plows have shoved it. Typically they bring in a front-end loader vehicle and a dump truck, and physically remove the snow banks so that there will be room for more.

Jeroen H's location in south Florida looks especially attractive about now!
_______________
Best wishes,

Phil Bunch
« Last edit by Phil Bunch on Sat, 07 Feb 2015 23:27:51 +0000. »
Moderator
Registered: May 2009
Posts: 2449
Location: KTMB
It's cold here! Below 80 all day! And yesterday my boss annouced free snow plowing services for all employees, which is very welcome.


Hoppie 8)
Moderator
Registered: May 2009
Posts: 2449
Location: KTMB
I take my joke back.

METAR KTMB 200853Z 34005KT 10SM CLR 04/01 A3029 RMK AO2 
Member
Registered: May 2009
Posts: 944
Well, I enjoyed your joke! Without humor, it would be most difficult to cope with our out-of-control weather (or any of life's challenges).

Here's my current METAR, for today, a cold but clear day:

METAR KPWM 202051Z 29015G19KT 10SM SCT250 M08/M19 A3001 RMK AO2 SLP162 T10781189 53040

My life experience, including spending a year in Sarasota, Florida, has taught me that it's the change from normal temperatures that is painful for most people. Thus, for another typical day in Maine where it may be as cold as minus 15 F., it is probably less painful than positive 40 F for people living in Miami. Also, in Florida, one knows that if somehow it does become colder, it will pass quickly and soon you'll be warm and enjoying the sunshine again.

I personally find very hot weather, as is usually present in south Florida, to be much harder to tolerate than very cold weather. If I put on a heavy enough coat, I am not cold or otherwise uncomfortable. But there's not much one can do if it is 100 F with 90% humidity. Perhaps if one has access to a swimming pool whose temperature is below about 80 F (human skin temperature), it would be simply a matter of jumping in the pool!

As you may have noticed from TV news or routine weather forecasts, the northeastern USA continues to have snow about every few days. We just asked our snow plowing service to arrange for heavy equipment and an operator to be brought to our house. This equipment, a *very* large snow blower and a large front-end loader, was used to remove the 7-10 feet tall snow banks that had encroached onto our driveway and the private road that leads to our house. I'm still not sure that we have enough room to put more snow, which just keeps coming, week after week. The snow banks in shopping mall parking lots are now 15-20 feet tall! Larger malls have full-time heavy equipment and crews to keep their parking lots open. Our local newspaper reported that our airport (KPWM) is struggling to stay open since they cannot allow tall snow banks on the edges of runways, in addition to maintaining clear runway surfaces.

The temperature has also been unusually cold at our location in southwestern Maine. It's been well below freezing essentially every day for many weeks, often dipping below zero Fahrenheit at night and for much of each day.

The total snowfall for the year will likely be at least 100-120 inches (250-300 cm), even more if we have additional snow storms. The next snow days are supposedly tomorrow and the next day...this much snow is quite remarkable to see in person. I am guessing that we will have another 4-6 weeks of cold and snow. Usually by late March or early April, the worst winter weather breaks. It's mid-May before we see green leaves again, though.
_______________
Best wishes,

Phil Bunch
Member
Registered: May 2009
Posts: 202
Location: The Netherlands
Hmm, just read this:

http://www.portlandjetport.org/news/winter-storm-juno-affects-flights-and-meetings

Nothing to fly in Portland ! And in PSX an all contaminated runways exercise.... !

Good luck Phil !

H.
Moderator
Registered: May 2009
Posts: 2449
Location: KTMB
... Seattle is warmer than Miami ... good ... I need to go to KPAE again next week.
Moderator
Registered: May 2009
Posts: 2449
Location: KTMB
User posted image

I saw this one floating by.
Member
Registered: May 2009
Posts: 944
It is said that we have two seasons in Maine:

(1) winter

(2) the 4th of July (a major USA holiday, celebrating adoption of the Declaration of Independence)

Actually, our too-brief brief summer is usually delightful, and occurs from about mid-June through mid-September, depending on what you count as warm weather!
_______________
Best wishes,

Phil Bunch
Moderator
Registered: May 2009
Posts: 2449
Location: KTMB
Seattle also has two seasons: summer and rain. Right now it rains.

Paine Field looks a bit sleepy.


Hoppie

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