Winter 2004/05 Summary & Summer 2005 Outlook


By: Victor J. Nouhan, Climate Team Leader


Prior to the beginning of the winter season, the winter outlook issued by the Climate Prediction Center called for near normal temperature and liquid equivalent precipitation (snowfall implied) across Northern and Downeast Maine.


What verified for the December through February period was quite interesting. Across the north, mean seasonal temps averaged about one degree F above normal. Snowfall and liquid equivalent was average to above average, with the highest totals across the far northwest and the Saint John Valley. Across Downeast areas, despite a very slow start to the winter after the conclusion of December, seasonal temperatures averaged -1.0 to -1.5 degree F below average and snowfall for the period was 100 to 120 percent of normal. East central areas experienced near normal temps and below normal snowfall for the season.


This doubled banded snow maximum reflected two significantly different storm tracks that were active over different portions of the winter. During the early phase of winter when there was little influence from weak El-Nino conditions, a storm track west of the region through the Saint Lawrence Valley was favored, which resulted mostly in rain across Downeast Maine and snow changing to rain across most of northern Maine, except the Allagash and the Saint John Valley, where enough cold air remained in place for mostly all snow events.


Greater influence from El-Nino during the second half of the winter, allowed for a further south coastal low track and more significant to heavy snow events for Downeast areas. From a liquid equivalent precipitation/snowfall standpoint, if the snow season ended at the conclusion of February, the outlook would have verified well. But as often is the case, storm tracks change going into spring transition months, and this was the case during the first half of March, which featured several major snow events affecting the entire region, resulting in seasonal snowfall ending up at or above normal for nearly all of the region by the end of the snow season (which extends through April). This last burst of late winter snowfalls, which bolstered maximum mid March snow pack depths up to 50 inches across the Saint John Valley, helped set up a significant ice jamming river flood season across the region this spring.


Overall, the winter of 2004/05 will be remembered for its changeable, and at times, very stormy character. The Climate Prediction Center's outlook for summer (June through August) 2005 is calling for near normal temperatures and rainfall.

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