Quarterly climate impacts and outlook for the Gulf of Maine region: December 2018

Gulf of Maine Region, December 2018

Gulf of Maine Significant Events – September to November 2018

Map of significant event highlights
Long description

Map of the Gulf of Maine region with text listing the following significant event highlights:

  • For most areas, the first half of autumn was warm and dry but the second half was cool and stormy.

September

Temperature swings occurred frequently during September. From September 3 to 6, the region experienced highs up to 36°C (97°F). Cold air moved in from September 9 to 10, with lows dropping to -3°C (27°F) in the Maritimes. From September 12 to 18, highs were near 30°C (86°F) in the three provinces and northern Maine, but cold air returned to these areas from September 24 to 25, with lows down to -3.3°C (26°F) and widespread frost. Daily max and min temperature records were set each time. Strong cold fronts crossed the Maritimes from September 21 to 22 and September 26 to 27, causing thousands of power outages.

October

A rapidly intensifying storm brought up to 82 mm (3 in.) of rain and strong winds to the Maritimes from October 15 to 16. The strongest gusts of over 120 km/h (75 mph) were in Cape Breton, N.S. The winds downed trees, left more than 60,000 customers without power, and disrupted travel.

On October 23, a rare EF-1 tornado touched down in Norton, MA, uprooting and snapping numerous trees. Since 1950, there have only been seven other October tornadoes in Massachusetts, with the last one occurring in 1970. There were also several reports of waterspouts in Cape Cod Bay. The same storm system brought the first significant snow to parts of New Hampshire, Maine, and New Brunswick, with up to 30 cm (12 in.) of snow from October 23 to 25. Up to 110 mm (4 in.) of rain fell in other parts of the Maritimes.

A powerful storm brought up to 125 mm (5 in.) of rain, 15 cm (6 in.) of snow, and some ice accumulation to the region from October 27 to 29. Wind gusts of up to 101 km/h (63 mph) occurred, with a peak gust of 156 km/h (97 mph) in Grand Etang, N.S. The high winds led to power outages, cancelled ferry services, downed trees, and minor coastal flooding. Prior to the storm on the 27th, several Maritimes sites set daily min temperature records with lows down to -12°C (10°F).

November

A series of storms moved through the region in November.

From November 2 to 4, a powerful storm system produced wind gusts up to 119 km/h (74 mph) and dropped up to 100 mm (4 in.) of rain on the region.

Another intense storm from November 15 to 16 brought up to 30 cm (12 in.) of snow, with thundersnow reported in eastern Massachusetts.

From November 27 to 29, a potent storm with winds up to 140 km/h (87 mph) dropped up to 30 cm (12 in.) of snow on the Maritimes.

As these storms exited the region, cold air moved in behind them, setting numerous minimum temperature records. For instance, following the November 15 to 16 storm, temperatures were as low as -23°C (-9°F). This November ranked among the five coldest Novembers on record for several sites. In addition, the persistent storminess caused this November to rank among the five wettest Novembers and/or five snowiest Novembers on record for several sites. See Regional Impacts for details on the November storms.

Regional Climate Overview: September to November 2018

Temperature: Autumn Departure from Normal

Temperature, Autumn Departure from Normal
Long description

Map of the Gulf of Maine region showing the mean temperature departure from normal, averaged over September, October, and November 2018. The scale to the right shows positive anomalies (above normal) in shades of red, to plus 5 degrees Celsius, negative anomalies (below normal) in shades of blue, to negative 5 degrees Celsius, and near normal (plus 0.5 Celsius to minus 0.5 Celsius) in white.

The map shows that averaged over the three months much of the region was cooler than normal. The temperature departure from normal was between minus 2 and minus 1 degree Celsius over much of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and northwestern Cape Breton. The temperature departure from normal elsewhere in the Maritimes was between minus 1 and plus 0.5 degrees Celsius.

Autumn temperatures (averaged over September, October, and November) ranged from 2°C (4°F) below normal to near normal for most of the region (image above). September temperatures ranged from near normal in parts of the Maritimes to 3°C (5°F) above normal in parts of New England. October temperatures ranged from 3°C (5°F) below normal in northern Maine and northern New Brunswick to near normal in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Nova Scotia. November temperatures ranged from 4°C (7°F) below normal in parts of New Hampshire, Maine, and central New Brunswick to near normal in southeastern Massachusetts and parts of Nova Scotia. Temperature normals are based on 1981 to 2010 data.

Time Series Graph of Daily Average and Normal Temperatures for Portland Maine
Long description

The time series graph of daily average and normal temperatures for Portland Maine from September 1 to November 30, 2018, shows fluctuations in daily temperature above and below the normal over the 3-month period. The graph is shaded red when daily temperatures were above normal and blue when temperatures were below normal. It shows large temperature swings both above and below normal, with most of the daily average temperatures above normal in the first half of the period and below normal in the second half of the period.

Daily average and normal temperatures at Portland, Maine, Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, 2018. Temperatures were above normal during the first half of autumn (shaded red) and below normal during the second half of autumn (shaded blue). Credit: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC).

Precipitation: Autumn Percent of Normal

Precipitation, Autumn Percent of Normal
Long description

Map of the Gulf of Maine region showing the total precipitation as a percentage of normal precipitation, accumulated from September to November 2018. Above normal (110% of normal and above, up to 200% of normal) is shown in shades of green, below normal (90% of normal and less) in shades of brown, and near normal (90% to 110% of normal) in white.

The map shows precipitation amounts were near normal over northwestern New Brunswick, and over northern and central Maine. Precipitation was below normal over extreme northern sections of New Brunswick. The rest of the region was generally wetter than normal. Precipitation over southeastern New Brunswick and much of mainland Nova Scotia averaged between 125% and 150% of normal.

Autumn precipitation (accumulated from September to December) generally ranged from 75% of normal in northern New Brunswick to 200% of normal in southeastern Massachusetts (image above). September precipitation ranged from 25% of normal in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to more than 200% of normal in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. October precipitation ranged from 50% of normal in northern New Brunswick to 200% of normal in eastern Nova Scotia. November precipitation ranged from near normal in northern New Brunswick to more than 200% of normal in parts of New England. U.S. precipitation normals are based on 1981 to 2010 data; Canadian precipitation normals are based on 2002 to 2017.

Sea Surface Temperatures: Departure from Normal

Sea Surface Temperatures, Departure from Normal
Long description

Map of sea surface temperature (SST) departures from normal in the Gulf of Maine Region, averaged over September to November 2018. The legend to the right ranges from plus 3 to negative 3 degrees Celsius, with positive anomalies (above normal) in shades of red and negative anomalies (below normal) in shades of blue. Anomalies near 0 degrees Celsius (near-normal temperatures) are shown in white.

The map shows higher than normal sea surface temperatures over the entire area, when averaged over the 3-month period.  See text for more details.

Autumn sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies were strongly (1 to 3°C [2 to 5°F]) above the 30-year average over the region. In the Gulf of Maine, positive anomalies were strongest over the deeper central basins (around 2.5°C [4.5°F]) and slightly weaker in coastal waters (around 1.5°C [2.7°F]). Off the shelf south of Nova Scotia, a warm patch of temperature anomalies were around 3.5°C (6.3°F) above normal. SST normals are based on 1985 to 2014 data.

Regional Impacts: September to November 2018

Dry Early Autumn

The first half of autumn was warm and dry (except Massachusetts, which was generally wet). At the start of September, northwestern New Brunswick, southwestern Nova Scotia, and coastal Maine were in a moderate drought, with abnormal dryness elsewhere in the region. During the month, there were water shortages in parts of Nova Scotia as shallow wells ran dry. The province trucked in drinking water for several communities. Fire departments delivered water to homes and were set up as water stations. When fighting fires, the departments contended with dried up water holes and wells. In Aroostook County, ME, dry conditions contributed to a hay shortage and allowed bedstraw, an invasive plant species, to flourish, reducing the number of acres of hay for some farmers. At the end of September, parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia remained in a drought, and abnormal dryness expanded in the rest of the Maritimes and northern Maine.

November 30, 2018 North American Drought Monitor Map
Long description

The map shows the intensity of abnormally dry or drought conditions over New England and the Maritimes in five categories: D0 abnormally dry, D1 drought - moderate, D2 drought - severe, D3 drought - extreme, and D4 drought - exceptional.

The map shows that only extreme northwestern New Brunswick and extreme northern Maine were experiencing any drought conditions, with those areas shown as abnormally dry.

Logos of contributing agencies are shown with the map, including from left to right, top: USDA (US Department of Agriculture), US National Drought Mitigation Center, CONAGUA (Comisión Nacional Del Agua), and from left to right, bottom: USA Department of Commerce, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

North American Drought Monitor, November 30, 2018

Stormy Late Autumn

Around mid-October, the weather pattern shifted, leading to cool conditions and frequent storms during the rest of autumn. Precipitation in October and November helped dry conditions improve in the region, except in northern New Brunswick and northern Maine. However, it made potato harvest difficult in P.E.I. Another consequence of heavy rain events is the discharge of sewage into waterways in parts of Massachusetts. Strong winds during the powerful November 2 to 4 storm left over 100,000 customers, mostly in New Brunswick, without power for up to six days. Many businesses and homeowners reported roof damage, which kept roofing companies busy. During the November 27 to 29 storm, strong winds and heavy snow left 375,000 customers without power in the three provinces, and some coastal flooding and erosion occurred along the coastlines. Due to stormy conditions, the start of the lobster season was delayed in Nova Scotia.

Photograph of Snapped Power Poles in PEI from the Nov. 27 to 29 storm.
Long description

The photograph shows several snapped power poles along a highway near Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. The ground is snow-covered and the road appears wet and partly snow covered.

Snapped power poles in P.E.I. from the Nov. 27 to 29 storm. Image courtesy of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)

November Snowfall

The November storms left much of the region with a surplus of snowfall. This November ranked among the five snowiest Novembers on record for Portland and Caribou, ME, and for several locations in the Maritimes, where snowfall was as much as two to more than three times normal. The snow gave the ski industry a boost, with downhill and cross country trails opening early. However, communities had to dip into their winter budgets early, and schools have already used a few snow days.

Map of modelled snow depth as of December 1.
Long description

The map shows that snow covered much of the region by the beginning of December, with the exception of parts of Massachusetts. The least snow depths were over southwestern Nova Scotia and over southern and coastal sections of the New England states, with depths ranging from a trace to 5 cm. Elsewhere snow depths were 20 to 30 cm in many locations, with over 50 cm in higher terrain and northern sections.

Modelled snow depth as of December 1. Credit: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s National Operational Hydrological Remote Sensing Center (NOHRSC).

Hurricane Season

For the third consecutive year, the Atlantic hurricane season featured above normal activity.  In 2018, there were 15 named storms, eight of which were hurricanes, with two of those being major hurricanes. An average season has 12 named storms, six of which are hurricanes, with three of those being major hurricanes. It was the fourth year in a row that hurricane activity began before the official start of the season (June 1), and the first year since 2008 to have four named active storms at the same time. According to NOAA, “Warmer Atlantic Ocean temperatures, a stronger west-African monsoon and the fact that El Niño did not form in time to suppress the season helped to enhance storm development." During autumn, the remnants of several tropical systems affected the region. Gordon's remnants dropped up to 133 cm (5.25 in.) of rain from September 11 to 12. From September 18 to 19, Florence's remnants brought up to 152 mm (6 in.) of rain and caused flooding, downed trees, and power outages in Massachuetts. Hurricane Leslie remained well offshore, but created rough surf and rip tides along Nova Scotia's Atlantic coast from October 5 to 6. From October 10 to 12, a frontal system combined with Michael's remnants brought up to 102 cm (4 in.) of rain, strong winds, and high waves.

2018 Atlantic hurricane season compared to an average season
# 2018 season Averaga season
Number of Named Storms 15  12 
Number of Hurricanes
Number of Major Hurricanes

Sea Turtles and Ocean Temperatures

Researchers indicate that warming waters are expanding sea turtles' range into the Gulf of Maine; however, sudden cold spells can leave them vulnerable to dangerously low temperatures. On November 23, more than 170 sea turtles froze to death off the coast of Cape Cod, MA. A combination of sudden cold temperatures, strong winds, and high tide left the turtles unable to escape to warmer waters.

Map of Sea Surface Temperature (SST) 8-day composite anomaly map for November 17 to 24.
Long description

Map of sea surface temperature (SST) departures from average based on an 8-day period, November 17 to 24, 2018. The scale to the right ranges from plus 4 to negative 4 degrees Celsius, with positive anomalies (above normal) in red and negative anomalies (below normal) in blue. Anomalies near 0 degree Celsius (temperatures close to normal) are shown in white. Black indicates areas not analyzed.

The map shows that over the 8-day period, temperatures were colder than normal in some coastal sections, and off the Atlantic shore of Nova Scotia. See text for details.

Sea surface temperature (SST) 8-day composite anomaly map for November 17 to 24. SSTs were below normal over shallow coastal regions off Massachusetts, central Maine, and Nova Scotia due to strong cooling from the cold air temperatures. SST climatology based on 1984 to 2014 data. Credit: University of Maine School of Marine Sciences.

Regional Outlook: Winter 2018 to 2019

Temperature and Precipitation

For December to February, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) favors above-normal temperatures for western Maine and the northern half of New Hampshire. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) predicts an increased chance of below-normal temperatures for the northern half of New Brunswick and western P.E.I. and an increased chance of above-normal temperatures for western Nova Scotia. Equal chances of below-, near-, or above-normal temperatures were forecast for the rest of the Gulf of Maine region.

Maps of the seasonal forecast for temperature issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Climate Prediction Center
Long description

The maps show the probability of above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures averaged over the months of December to February.

The map issued by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (left) shows a chance of above-normal temperatures for northwestern sections of the New England states, with no signal elsewhere.

The probability map issued by ECCC (right) shows a pattern of colder than normal temperatures in the northern half of New Brunswick and western-most Prince Edward Island, warmer than normal in southwestern Nova Scotia, and no signal of above or below elsewhere in the Maritime provinces.

Climate Prediction (CPC) temperature outlook map (left) produced Nov 15. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) temperature outlook map (right) produced Nov 30.

The precipitation outlooks call for an increased chance of below-normal precipitation for P.E.I., southeastern New Brunswick, and parts of Nova Scotia, and equal chances for the rest of the region.

Map of the seasonal forecast for precipitation issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) for the December to February months
Long description

The seasonal probability map issued by ECCC shows a slightly increased chance of below-normal precipitation over Prince Edward Island and nearby areas for the winter, with no signal for wetter or drier conditions elsewhere.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) precipitation outlook map produced Nov 30.

El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

ENSO-neutral conditions continued in November. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center indicates there is a 90% chance that El Niño will form and continue during winter and a 60% chance it will continue through spring. This El Niño is expected to be weak. See the Northeast El Niño Impacts and Outlook (PDF) and NOAA's Eastern Region Climate Services November webinar for more information.

Graph of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) forecast
Long description

Time series graph of the official probabilistic El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) forecast, issued in early December by the US Climate Prediction Center (CPC) and the International Research Institute (IRI) for Climate and Society.

EÑSO state based on NINO3.4 Sea surface temperature (SST) Anomaly

Neutral ENSO: -0.5 °C to 0.5 °C

Vertical bars show the forecast probability, covering 3-month intervals, of each EÑSO condition (La Niña, neutral, and El Niño) with bars in blue, grey, and red, respectively. Each 3-month interval overlaps by two months. The time period covers a year, beginning with the late fall/early winter months of 2018 to the late summer/early fall of 2019. Lines of the equivalent colours show the climatological probability of each condition over the 3-month intervals.

The bar graph is showing the forecast probability for the El Nino condition is higher than the other conditions for the entire period. The forecast probability is highest at the beginning of the period, at over 90% for the winter months. It reduces gradually but remains over 50% through to early summer. The probability of neutral conditions slowly increases from near zero to about 40% by summer.

The line plots show that climatologically the neutral condition is more probable than the other conditions from winter through to the summer. The climatological probability of El Nino or La Nina are similar and slightly higher than the neutral condition in the late fall/early winter.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: