Service field office locations:
|Eastern Region Headquarters Internet Web Site
NWSFO GRAY, ME
STATION LOCATION: NWSFO Gray is located on a rural hillside along route 231 a few miles east of the village of Gray, ME. The office can be reached by taking exit 11 from the Maine Turnpike and following route 115 east approximately 2 miles. Turn left and follow Depot Road until you reach the stop sign at the intersection of route 231. Then turn right and up the hill on route 231 for about 1/2 mile. Office will be to your right near the top of the hill.
COMMUNITY DESCRIPTION: Gray is located in Cumberland County situated in a mostly rural area of southwest Maine. The town sports a population of about 1000 while the county has nearly 250,000 residents. The closest metropolitan areas are Portland about 25 miles south and the twin cities of Auburn-Lewiston some 20 miles to the north. Both of these areas have populations of around 65,000 each.
The region is very scenic with only about 50 miles separating ocean locations dotted by numerous islands from the White Mountain National Forest in nearby Oxford County. There are a wide variety of churches with a broad selection of private and public schools. The University of Southern Maine, Westbrook College and Southern Maine Technical college are located in the Portland area while Bowdoin College can be found in Brunswick. The city of Brunswick is also the home of Brunswick Naval Air Station. The Maine Medical Center is just one of the fine medical facilities located in Cumberland County.
Outdoor activities abound with both fresh and salt water boating/fishing, hunting, skiing, hiking and golfing within easy reach. Cultural activities can be found in the many local museums, theaters, aquarium and art centers. Portland hosts professional baseball, hockey and basketball teams.
CLIMATE: Gray is located just far enough inland to be west of the direct impact of the maritime influences of the Atlantic Ocean. This results in colder/snowier winters and warmer summers. The average snowfall is around 85 inches with seasonal snowfall of 100 inches or more occurring every few years. However, true blizzards are relatively rare. The annual rainfall is distributed in remarkably uniform amounts from month to month. Episodes of hot and humid weather are relatively infrequent and very few summer nights are truly uncomfortable.
Temperatures during the winter often fall below zero with the all-time low temperature at Portland being -39 degrees. The all-time high temperature for Portland is 103 degrees. The average freeze-free period for Portland is 143 days but this drops off rapidly as you move inland. For Portland the average date for the last freeze is May 11th. The earliest date for the last freeze is April 20th with the latest spring freeze occurring on May 31st. In the fall the first freeze usually occurs around September 27th but have been as early as September 18th and as late as October 19th.
STATION ACTIVITIES: The NWSFO at Gray area encompasses all of Maine, most of New Hampshire and a coastal marine area that reaches 25 miles off the coast of both states. The county warning area (CWA) covers central and southern Maine and all except southwest New Hampshire. The hydrologic service area (HSA) includes all of Maine, and New Hampshire except Cheshire and Hillsborough counties and the main stem of the Connecticut River above Walpole, NH.
Complete public and aviation programs are maintained along with a coastal waters forecast for the marine areas. Flood warnings, river statements, hydrologic data collections, short and long-fused watches and warnings, short term forecasts, special and public information statements and weather advisories are also provided. The office operates two WSR-88D radars in support of these operations.
The office provides upper air soundings from a release site on a hilltop about 1/4 mile from the NWSFO. Continuous NOAA Weather Radio programming is broadcast using three transmitters in Maine and one in New Hampshire. NWSFO Gray has an unusually large cooperative observing program of about 140 stations and a compliment of seventeen SAWRS/LAWRS/Coast Guard stations. The HMT staff also provides quality control services for a number of ASOS sites and numerous ROSA collections. A public service phone program is maintained Monday-Friday. Maintenance services are accomplished by the Electronic Technician staff who are collectively responsible for the operational integrity of all equipment.
TRANSIENT/PERMANENT LIVING ACCOMMODATIONS: With its rural location there are few motels nearby. While there are some transient living facilities in Gray, the closest national lodging chains are located in Yarmouth and Freeport some 10 miles to the east of the office. A larger selection of temporary housing can be found in Brunswick 20 miles east of the office and in Portland, about 25 miles to the south. Permanent housing costs vary widely from town to town with the average selling price in Cumberland County about $130,000. However, these averages range from around $60,000 in rural areas 40-50 miles west of Gray to more than $200,000 in the coastal community of Cape Elizabeth. The average in Gray was about $95,000 dollars in 1995. Rental prices for 1 bedroom unfurnished apartments range from $400-$500 a month with 2 bedroom facilities renting at $500-600 monthly. A 2 bedroom house rents at about $600-$800 monthly with 3/4 bedroom homes starting at about $800 monthly.
LOCAL SERVICES: There is no local transportation in the Gray region so a personal car is a necessity. Child care facilities are spread throughout the local communities. There are several small eating facilities within a few miles of the office but all require some amount of travel to reach. Cumberland county has numerous fine restaurants serving a wide variety of food.
TAXES: Most people consider Maine a state with high taxes but the impact of taxes varies widely depending on personal circumstances and where you live. Property taxes average between $15-$25 for each thousand dollars of evaluation with most towns assessing at 80-100% of the property valuation. State taxes are on a graduated schedule with the top rate of 8.5 percent.