Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

PORTLAND, Maine - Portland, Maine, officials say an October rainstorm that helped the area recover from a drought also contributed to millions of gallons of raw sewage and stormwater flowing into the Casco Bay.
The Portland Press Herald reports close to 69 million gallons of polluted runoff flowed into waterways during the 2016 storm Oct. 21 and 22. The runoff from that storm made up 21 percent of the total 318.4 million gallons of sewage and stormwater that was added to Casco Bay pollution that year.

Maine Public/file

Shivering Mainers will get a reprieve this week from the extreme cold that's gripped the region for days.

And Michael Cempa of the National Weather Service in Gray says the thaw coming Tuesday won't produce the kind of flooding that hit coastal areas during last week's storm.

"The flooding that came the day we had the blizzard last Thursday - that was coastal flooding due to the tides and the ocean, and not so much anything to do with snow or rainfall or melt," Cempa says.

Portland’s city council Wednesday night approved an ordinance that bans the use of synthetic pesticides on most public and private property.

City Sustainability Coordinator Troy Moon says that means a very big education campaign before the change begins for private properties in Jan. 2019.

“Our goal would be to just try to reinforce the education message, and if people really aren’t going to participate in the program then we would have options for enforcement, but our goal isn’t to go about fining people,” he says.

While residents of Maine's three major service center communities awoke to significant new snowfalls Friday, Bangor's 18.3 inches of new flakes surpassed levels in either Portland or Lewiston.

Bangor City Manager Cathy Conlow says the recent cold temperatures have done little to melt snow accumulations from the last storm. Like other communities, Bangor uses a deicing agent to clear its streets and sidewalks, but Conlow says it’s only effective to about five degrees above zero.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Activities across Maine nearly ground to a halt Thursday in the face of an intense nor’easter.

Fred Bever / Maine Public

In addition to snow and wind, Thursday’s blizzard brought historic flooding to the southern Maine coast, from Portland all the way into New Hampshire.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press File

Twenty years ago this month, much of the state was coping with an icy disaster: downed power lines, toppled trees, impassable roads, frozen pipes and darkness for nights on end.

Schools turned into shelters, power crews worked feverishly around the clock and Mainers pulled together, offering hot showers and cups of coffee and swapping stories about surviving the Ice Storm of ‘98.

With each winter storm, municipalities must respond with plow-hours, salt and sand, and try not to run out of those resources before spring. So far, towns are reporting that they’re “mostly” on budget.

“We’re probably 25-30 percent expended on salt. And about 20 percent expended on overtime,” says Eric Dudley, director of engineering & public service for Westbrook.

weather.gov image

Maine is bracing for an ocean storm that will track close enough to the state Thursday to produce heavy snow.

“We are expecting about 8-12 inches throughout most of southern and western Maine and, once you get toward Penobscot Bay and points to the east, 12-18 inches plus are possible, certainly from Penobscot up through Washington County,” says Tom Hawley with the National Weather Service in Gray.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press File

The recent cold spell has spurred oil-fired power plants throughout New England into action. But the operator of the regional electricity grid says pollution control regulations could throttle supplies from those sources.

Over the last decade, relatively low-polluting natural gas has been New England’s dominant fuel for electricity generation. But in winter, demand for gas can skyrocket from consumers who need it to heat their homes, and that can limit supplies for electricity generation.

Tony Dejak / Associated Press

Maine health officials are warning of the dangers of the deep freeze that's hit the region, with temperatures across the state Thursday night plunging well below zero into record-breaking territory.

Hypothermia and frostbite are the biggest concerns, officials with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention say.

Kathy Heseltine / Via Natural Resources Council Of Maine

Frigid temperatures forecast this weekend are proving too much even for rugged Mainers. A pair of popular polar dips planned for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are being canceled or rescheduled due to organizers’ concerns for participants’ safety.

GRAY, Maine - The National Weather Service says Thursday's high temperatures were record breakers for the day in Maine and New Hampshire.
The high temperature in Portland, Maine was 8 degrees, breaking the record for the coldest high temperature on that day. The old record was 11 degrees in 1946.
In New Hampshire, the high temperature on Thursday was 5 degrees. The previous record was 14 degrees in 1946.

Courtesy Mount Washington Observatory

If you think it's cold outside where you are, consider the top of New Hampshire's Mount Washington, described as the "home of the world's worst weather." 

At the 6,200-foot summit, the mountain's weather observatory recorded a record low temperature for Dec. 28.  

A fireball that lit up the evening sky is lighting up social media.
The bright streak Tuesday evening was seen in parts of New England, including southern Maine and New Hampshire.
The Mount Agamenticus Conservation Program webcam on Mount Agamenticus in York County captured the event at 5:52 p.m.
The National Weather Service in Gray tweeted, "Did you see a fireball or meteor just now?''