Gulf of Maine quarterly climate impacts and outlook: June 2018

Gulf of Maine region, June 2018

Gulf of Maine significant events – March to May 2018

Long description

Map of the Gulf of Maine Region, which comprises the Maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, in Canada, and the New England states of Maine, New Hampshire, and the eastern half of Massachusetts, in the United States of America, and the nearby marine areas. The map highlights some of the significant events that occurred in the spring of 2018 (March to May 2018). These are as follows:

  • Major flooding in New Brunswick at the end of April.
  • Several March nor'easters impacted the region.

On March 1 to 4, the first of several nor'easters impacted the region. The storm brought significant snowfall to some areas; Doyleville, N.B., reported 26 cm (10.2 in.) of snow. Up to 130 mm (5 in.) of rain was reported in New England, which caused flooding. Strong winds associated with the storm downed trees and power lines; wind gusts greater than 146 km/hr (90 mph) were reported in Massachusetts. Storm surge and high waves washed rocks onto coastal roads in Nova Scotia.

A few days later, on March 7 to 8, a powerful nor'easter brought rain, heavy, wet snow, and strong winds to much of New England and the Maritimes. Flooded streets led to road closures, and wind gusts caused power outages affecting over 320,000 customers in Massachusetts and 30,000 in Nova Scotia.

The Maritimes were affected by another nor'easter immediately afterward on March 9 to 10, with snowfall amounts over 40 cm (15.7 in.) in Nova Scotia, and 65,000 customers lost power there.

Another nor'easter moved through the region on March 13 to 14, bringing heavy, wet snow and strong winds. Penobscot, ME, received 76 cm (30 in.) of snow and Grand Etang, N.S., reported gusts of 146 km/hr (90 mph). Blizzard conditions were reported in Boston causing additional power outages, and a sports dome in Nova Scotia was destroyed. Boston ranked this storm as its largest one-day March snowfall on record.

Another storm on March 21 to 22 brought mixed precipitation, significant snowfall, and strong winds that halted travel in parts of New England. Nantucket, MA, reported a gust of 88 km/hr (55 mph). Moncton, N.B., and Bas Caraquet, N.B., both reported March cumulative snowfall in excess of 100 cm (39 in.).

On April 16 to 17, heavy rain and wind gusts up to 85 km/hr (53 mph) were recorded in Massachusetts, which created unfavorable conditions for participants of the Boston Marathon. Freezing rain caused schools to close in parts of New Brunswick, and P.E.I. Bas Caraquet, N.B., reported 39 mm (1.5 in.) of total precipitation.

Heavy rain and mild temperatures led to melting snow and major flooding in New Brunswick on April 27 to 30. This was the beginning of a prolonged flood event that continued through mid-May as several storm events caused power outages and added to the ongoing flooding. Strong winds, up to 100 km/ hr (62 mph) in Moncton, caused thousands to lose power on May 4 to 5. The high winds in New Brunswick complicated flood relief efforts and caused additional damage due to wave action.

More rain, wet snow, winds, and lightning caused additional power outages on May 23.

Regional climate overview – March to May 2018


Spring departure from normal

Long description

Map of the Gulf of Maine region showing the mean temperature departure from normal, averaged over March April and May 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, most areas in the Maritimes and New England states had generally near-normal temperatures (within one-half degree Celsius of normal). Some areas in northern New Brunswick including the Acadian peninsula were colder than normal, on average, generally to about one degree below normal. Some Atlantic coastal locations were warmer than normal on average, generally up to one degree above normal.

Spring temperature departure from normal. Temperature normals based on 1981 to 2010 data.

A contrasting cold April and very warm May balanced out the average spring temperatures (averaged over March, April, and May) to near normal. March temperatures ranged from 1°C (2°F) below normal to 3°C (5°F) above normal. April temperatures ranged from 4°C (7°F) below normal to near normal. May was warm in comparison, with temperatures ranging from 2°C (4°F) below normal in parts of the Maritimes to over 4°C (7°F) above normal in parts of New England.


Spring percent of normal

Long description

Map of the Gulf of Maine region showing the total precipitation as a percentage of normal precipitation, accumulated over March to May 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 that most of the New England states were below normal for total precipitation with some locations receiving as little as half the normal amount. In the Maritimes the precipitation amount was either near normal or wetter than normal (up to 125% of normal).

Spring precipitation as % of normal. Precipitation normals based on 1981–2010 data.

Spring precipitation (accumulated from March to May) ranged from 50% to 125% of normal. March precipitation ranged from 50 to 200% of normal. April precipitation ranged from 75 to 200% of normal. Nova Scotia was much wetter than normal. May precipitation ranged from less than 25% of normal in parts of New England to 150% of normal in isolated areas of the Maritimes.

Sea surface temperature

Departure from normal

Long description

Map of the Gulf of Maine Region marine areas showing the sea surface temperature departure from normal, averaged over March to May 2018. Positive anomalies (above normal) are shown in shades of red, to plus 3 degrees Celsius. Negative anomalies (below normal) are shown in shades of blue, to negative 3 degrees Celsius. Anomalies near 0 degrees Celsius (near-normal temperatures) are shown in white.

The map shows that nearly all of the Gulf of Maine region marine areas had above-normal sea surface temperatures.  The exception was a small area around Cape Cod where temperatures were near normal or below normal. In a large area south of Nova Scotia waters were anomalously warm for the time of year by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius.

Sea surface temperature anomalies based on 1985 to 2014 data. Credit: University of Maine School of Marine Sciences.

Spring sea surface temperature anomalies were well above the climatological 30- year average over the entire study region, ranging from 0.5°C (1°F) to >3°C (5°F) above average. Extremely strong positive anomalies of >3°C (5°F) were present in deep water off the shelf, south of Nova Scotia. Record-high ocean temperatures were recorded off of Nova Scotia in April, and a new study shows that ocean heat waves are happening more frequently and lasting longer.

Regional impacts – March to May 2018

Spring conditions

Long description

The panel on the left shows a line of houses completely surrounded by water. In the foreground of the photograph, long ocean waves were approaching and breaking nearshore. The panel on the right shows blocks of houses, with most houses surrounded by water. In the foreground of the photograph, waves were overtopping a wide low protective wall where 3 excavating machines were working.

Coastal flooding in Scituate, MA, on March 4th. Credit: Ralph Karl Swenson, SKYWARN Spotter.

The March storms disrupted travel in New England which led to increased trucking costs. The storms, as well as a warming climate, were also linked to rare bird sightings in Nova Scotia.

Weather conditions allowed for a good maple syrup harvest in southern New Brunswick. Despite cold winter temperatures, ticks were an issue this spring, as most survived due to the insulation provided by above-normal snowfall in many areas. Northern New Brunswick had a good snowmobile season due to the amount and duration of snow cover; in contrast the lack of snow in central and eastern P.E.I. was hard on the snowmobile industry. Early in April a conservation group in P.E.I. was concerned with low water table levels in a watershed, and fire chiefs warned it was too dry to burn with the fire weather index at moderate to high toward the end of April.

New Brunswick experienced flooding that began in late April when water levels between Fredericton to Saint John reached or exceeded previous extreme levels set in the floods of 1973 and 2008. Early New Brunswick flood damage estimates were $80 million. Recovery was expected to take months, and concerns remained due to health and safety risks from impacts to infrastructure and contamination. Minor flooding was reported in northern Maine.

Long description

The photograph shows a flooded highway underpass with people observing the flooding from the path to the left and from the road overhead.

Flooded underpass on April 28 Fredericton, N.B. Credit: Rick Fleetwood.

Spring ice breakup at Fredericton, N.B., on the Saint John River was on March 4, the eleventh earliest on record, continuing the trend of a lengthening open water season observed since records began in 1825.

In early April, thick ice and colder-than-normal temperatures were expected to prevent an early start to the snow crab fishery in the western Gulf of St. Lawrence. Many fisheries had planned an early start and end to their season to prevent right whale entanglement. On May 20, two right whales were spotted in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, causing several fisheries to close.

Ocean temperatures

Concern about the health of the right whale population in the region continued as no calves were spotted as of early spring. Scientists think that the whales' migration may be changing due to changes with currents and climate, forcing them into new waters to find their food sources. In contrast, the striped bass population has tripled in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Warming ocean temperatures are likely a factor for the northern movement and expansion of the fish population.

Long description

The photograph shows the tail of a North Atlantic right whale as it dives under the water.

North Atlantic right whale.  Credit: NOAA Center for Coastal Studies.

Regional outlook – summer 2018

Temperature and precipitation

For June–August, the Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) outlooks favor above-normal temperatures. ECCC's outlook favors below-normal precipitation for portions of the Maritimes and CPC's outlook favors above-normal precipitation for New England.

Long description

The maps show the probability of above-normal temperatures averaged over the months of June to August.

The map issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada covers the Maritimes and part of Quebec.  It shows that chances of above-normal temperatures are 80% or more over all of New Brunswick and the western half of Nova Scotia, with slightly lower probabilities over eastern Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

The map issued by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center covers the New England states. It shows probabilities of 40 to 50% for above-normal temperatures for the entire area.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) temperature map (left) produced May 31. U.S. Climate Prediction Center (CPC) temperature map (right) produced May 17.

A on CPC map signifies above normal temperatures.

Atlantic hurricane season

2018 season outlook Average season
# of named storms 10 to 16 12
# of hurricanes
5 to 9 6
# of major hurricaines 1 to 4 3

NOAA's 2018 Atlantic hurricane outlook indicates a near- or above-normal season. The outlook calls for 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 63 km/h [39 mph] or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 119 km/h [74 mph] or higher), including 1 to 4 major hurricanes (winds of 179 km/h [111 mph] or higher). The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, with a peak from mid-August to late October.

El Niño Southern Oscillation (EÑSO)

Long description

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

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

Neutral ENSO: -0.5 °C to 0.5 °C

Vertical bars show the probability, covering 3-month intervals, of each EÑSO condition (La Niña, neutral, and El Niño) with bars in blue, grey, and red, respectively. The 3-month intervals overlap by two months. The time period extends from the spring-summer (May to July) 2018 to winter (January to March) 2019.

Lines of the equivalent colours show the climatological probability of each condition over the 3-month intervals.

The bar graph shows that the neutral condition is the most probable (at over 60%) for the spring and summer months. The probability of the El Nino condition increases over the period. The El Nino condition becomes the most probable condition by the months August to October. The probability of El Nino conditions is 60% or more by late autumn and through the rest of the period.

Early-June Climate Prediction Center (CPC)/International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) Official Probabilistic El Niño Southern Oscillation (EÑSO) Forecasts

According to the U.S. Climate Prediction Center, ENSO-neutral is favored through summer 2018, with the chance of El Niño increasing to 50% during fall and near 65% during winter.

Gulf of Maine partners

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Telephone : 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
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Email :

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Name: Ellen Mecray

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