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Dry winter and spring leading to possible drought in southern Maine

Some people love the snow, others hate it. The lack of snow this past winter is impacting the summer forecast.

PORTLAND, Maine — I try my best to hide my weather opinions when I give the forecast, but I often slip up with one thing...

I absolutely love a good snowstorm. I think they're the best "bad" weather, since the impacts from them in New England are generally small. This goes only for pure snow, though. I don't like them nearly as much when they're accompanied by wind.

This past winter (the 2021-2022 season) was extremely variable across the state.

Portland ended up with nearly a two-foot deficit in snowfall. Bangor followed this with a deficit of around one foot.

Caribou, on the other hand, finished the season about 6" above normal.

Credit: NEWS CENTER Maine

I'm sure you're thinking, "Slifer, it's June, why are we talking about snow still?"

Well, this lack of snow is having real impacts on southern Maine.

Credit: NEWS CENTER Maine

The latest update on the drought monitor will come out later Thursday, but the current monitor shows abnormally dry conditions across the entire coastline.

Chief Meteorologist Todd Gutner was even talking on the news this morning about how his lawn is getting brown.

Credit: NEWS CENTER Maine

Sometimes snow does not tell the whole story. There have been plenty of examples of heavy rainstorms during the winter months the last few seasons.

This year, though, did not really feature anything too significant.

That means the overall moisture deficit has been ongoing at the coastline for about six months.

Again, it's totally the opposite in central Maine, where there's still an ongoing precip surplus.

Credit: NEWS CENTER Maine
Credit: NEWS CENTER Maine

This problem is more interesting because some of the driest months of the year in southern Maine tend to be during the summer months.

[Side note: "summer" here is June, July, and August]

Should this summer end up near normal for precip, that still means southern Maine will be experiencing rain deficits of more than 3" heading into the fall.

Credit: NEWS CENTER Maine

The reason I hesitated to say this entire winter was "not normal" is because of temperatures.

In the graphic above, take a look at the numbers highlighted in orange.

These numbers take into account all of the high and low temperatures. The reason this is the best way to visualize averages is because it is less likely to be impacted by one big outlier, such as a very warm day or cold night.

Credit: NEWS CENTER Maine

When you look at winter through the lens of temperatures, both Portland and Bangor were pretty much exactly average.

A "normal" Maine winter can be tough to define, but we're running dry no matter how you slice it.

We'll see what this summer brings. My guess, though, is that it's going to involve sprinklers for many along the coast.

- Mike Slifer, @MikeSliferWX

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