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WFO CARIBOU, ME
STATION LOCATION: WFO Caribou is located on the grounds of the Caribou Municipal Airport located at 810 North Main Street.. A new state of the art WFO was constructed in 2002 at the airport. The airport is located about one-half mile north of the downtown area. To reach northern Maine by automobile, most travelers take Interstate 95 to Houlton and then travel north on Route 1 to Caribou. The hub for commercial air service into northern Maine is at the Northern Maine Regional Airport located in Presque Isle which is situated about 10 miles south of Caribou. U.S. Airways is the major air carrier for the region.
COMMUNITY DESCRIPTION: Caribou is located in Aroostook County, the largest and northernmost county in Maine. The "County" is actually the largest county east of the Mississippi. Caribou sports a population of about 9,500 while Presque Isle to the south has about 11,000. Presque Isle is the major shopping area in the region. The Aroostook Center Mall hosts a number of national department stores and shops. Large retailers such as K-Mart and Wal-Mart are also present. The closest large metropolitan areas are Bangor about 150 miles to the south and Fredericton, New Brunswick which is about a 2 hour car trip to the east.
The region is very scenic with rolling farm land and many majestic views of distant mountains. The North Maine Woods covers a large portion of the area to the west. Potato farming in eastern Aroostook County and logging in the west are two of the largest industries in the area. Of course many support industries have sprung in support of farming and logging.
A high priority is placed on the public school systems in the region. Students in northern Maine compare favorably with their counterparts throughout New England. High school athletics consist of soccer, basketball, baseball, track, volley ball, cross country, golf, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, and tennis. The University of Maine system has campuses in Presque Isle as well as Fort Kent. Degree programs are offered at both campuses.
Outdoor activities abound throughout the year. Fresh water boating/fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, skiing, hiking and golfing are all within easy reach. Biathlon and cross country skiing facilities have recently been constructed at Fort Kent and Presque Isle. These have hosted World Cup international events in recent years. Cultural activities are hosted by the University of Maine as well as performing arts centers in the various towns.
CLIMATE: Even though Caribou is located just 150 miles from the Atlantic coast, the climate can be classified as severe continental in nature. Winters are quite cold, rather long and snowy. The first snow usually occurs in November with the last snow sometime in April. Caribou averages 115 inches of snow annually. A large portion of this snowfall does not melt until the spring thaw. It is not unusual for late winter snow packs to be in the 3 to 5 foot range.
The spring thaw can occur as early as March, but most years it is mid to late April before the snow is cover is completely gone and the ice out of the rivers and lakes. If the snow melt is rapid in conjunction with moderate to heavy rain, then flooding of rivers and streams can occur.
Summers are very pleasant with sufficient rainfall to support a vigorous agricultural industry. High temperatures are generally in the 70s with low temperatures in the 50s. Temperatures in the 80s are not unusual, but 90 degree days are a rather rare occurrence. The autumn period from late August into October is characterized by pleasantly cool temperatures and lots of daily sunshine as the rule. The first frost of the year usually occurs by the middle of September. The last spring frost usually occurs during the latter half of May.
STATION ACTIVITIES: The WFO at Caribou is responsible for weather services for all of northern and eastern Maine. This includes the down east coastal area from Stonington to Eastport, which encompasses Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.
Complete public, aviation, and coastal waters programs are maintained. NDFD grid preparation, flood warnings, river statements, hydrologic data collections, short and long-fused watches and warnings, fire weather forecasts, short term forecasts, special and public information statements and weather advisories are also provided. The office operates a WSR-88D Doppler radar located at Hodgdon, which is just south of Houlton, in support of these operations.
The office also provides upper air soundings twice per day and is a test bed for the new radiosonde replacement system. Continuous NOAA Weather Radio programming is broadcast on 8 transmitters. WFO Caribou has an active cooperative observing program consisting of both modernized and legacy sites. The HMT staff also provides quality control services for six ASOS sites and numerous ROSA collections. A public service phone program is maintained 24 hours per day. Maintenance services are accomplished by the Electronic Technician staff which is collectively responsible for the operational integrity of all equipment.
TRANSIENT/PERMANENT LIVING ACCOMMODATIONS: Several hotels are convenient to the WFO which do offer transient living quarters in the form of larger suites. Permanent housing costs are very reasonable in comparison to other areas in New England.
Modest homes can be obtained for around $75,000 with nicer homes ranging upward to around $250,000. Rental units are also available and moderately priced.
LOCAL SERVICES: There is long distance bus transportation available with routes going south. However, a personal car is a necessity for getting around the local area. Child care facilities are available. There is the typical fare of fast food restaurants in both Caribou and Presque Isle. Plus, other family owned establishments offer quality 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 $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. An excise tax is also levied on automobiles payable every year at registration time.