2022 Weather Year in Review

In 2022, the NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team gathered a record 518 reports.

The year 2022 started out with three SKYWARN activations on January 7th, 17th – 18th, and 29th – 30th, the most memorable for a nor’easter that tracked near the Gulf of Maine on January 29th. The nor’easter accounted for 13.2 inches of the 13.6 inches total snowfall for the month in Portland, and produced 86 SKYWARN reports. January featured several temperature swings through the first three weeks of the month, followed by persistent cold through the end of the month. On the whole, the average temperature for January was well below normal and it was the coldest January since 2009.

Observed snowfall totals from the January 29-30 nor’easter

February was quieter, with only two SKYWARN activations on the 4th and 25th – 26th, as the upper-level jet stream took on a traditional La Nina pattern, with a ridge in the Northeast Pacific and another over the Southeastern U.S. The persistent ridge over the Southeast dominated weather in the Portland area, bringing several warm spells during the month. The warmest period came during the last week of the month, when the high temperature reached 66 degrees on February 23rd. A sharp cold front crossed the area causing temperatures to drop 25 degrees by midnight and resulted in a record temperature range of 41 degrees for the date. The most significant event occurred on February 3-4 when waves of low pressure tracked along a cold front that slowly sank south through New England and then stalled near Portland. This setup a period of rain that changed over to sleet, with the Portland area receiving 2 to 3 inches of sleet before precipitation ended as light snow. Smaller systems in the second half of the month were primarily rain producers, until a storm finally tracked across southern New England with enough cold air to bring 5.8” of snow on the 25th.

Frequent light precipitation events with measurable precipitation occurred during March, with only two SKYWARN activations on the 12th and 30th. While snowfall did eclipse the dismal 0.1” recorded in March of 2021, total snowfall finished well below normal with only 3 inches and no days of an inch or greater of snow.

Only a single SKYWARN activation occurred in April for a wind and rain event on the 19th. A 28 mph wind gust was recorded in New Harbor, and we received multiple reports of wind damage in the Waldoboro area. A total of 5.0 inches of precipitation fell in Portland, which was 0.59 inches above normal.

The month of May was warm and dry in the Portland area. The primary feature that dominated the weather pattern was a ridge of high pressure that started to develop during the second week of the month and remained centered over Northern New England through the end of the month. Only one SKYWARN activation occurred, on May 16 for damaging thunderstorms that effected mostly Southwestern New Hampshire and the Connecticut River Valley. The storm produced 21 reports, which were mostly for wind damage. A total of 1.12 inches of precipitation fell in the Portland area, which was 2.55 inches below normal.

The month of June was cooler and drier than normal. An anomalous trough of low pressure that started to develop during the second week of the month remained through the third week of the month. Two SKYWARN activations occurred for thunderstorms, with quarter size hail reported in Conway, NH on the 4th and heavy rain and ponding in the roadway reported in Scarborough on the 17th. A total of 2.62 inches of precipitation fell in the Portland area, which was 1.53 inches below normal. The heaviest precipitation fell on June 17th, when 0.76” was recorded.

July was warmer and much drier than normal. It was also the third month in a row with below normal precipitation, leading to an expansion of moderate drought conditions early in the month. Despite the lack of precipitation, there were five SKYWARN activations during the month for thunderstorms, on July 12, 14, 21, 25, and 28. We received 26 reports on the 21st, mostly for wind damage, from Antrim, Stoddard, Hancock, Sullivan, Harrisville, and Moultonborough, NH, and the same cell produced a microbust on Frye Island and Raymond, ME. On the 25th, we received reports of trees and wires down in Swanzey, and Exeter, NH. A total of 1.28 inches of precipitation fell in July, which was 2.15 inches below normal. The heaviest precipitation fell on July 5th into the 6th, when 0.38” was recorded.

Wind damage from the July 25th storm, in Sebago, ME

August was much wetter and warmer than normal. By the end of the first week of the month, a broad ridge, that started to develop in the mid-levels of atmosphere, shifted east, with the center of the ridge settling over New England. The ridge persisted into the second week of August and was responsible for the hottest stretch of weather during the summer months. From August 5 to 7, the temperature did not drop below 70 degrees for three days in a row, along with high temperatures climbing above 90 degrees for three days in a row between the 7th and 9th. A cold front then crossed into New England the night of August 9th, bringing much cooler air. It was during this period that a series of upper troughs pushed across Southeastern Canada with frontal systems bringing bouts of heavy rain on the 22nd, 26th, and 31st. SKYWARN activations occurred on the 8th and 26th. We received multiple reports on the 26th for wind damage in Marlborough and Newport, NH, and heavy rain, wind, and hail across Southern Maine.

September was cooler and wetter than normal and two SKYWARN activations occurred on the 13th and 23rd. A cold front crossed New England to start the month followed by high pressure settling over the area through the 4th. This allowed for warm sunny days and cool crisp nights. Another cold front dropped south into the area the night of the 4th and stalled over New England through the 6th. Waves of low pressure tracked along the frontal boundary bringing a soaking rain on the 5th – 6th. Unseasonably warm days followed, until a cold front crossed on the 15th, causing temps to average below normal through the end of the month.

October was warmer and much wetter than normal, with only one SKYWARN activation occurring during the month, as a severe thunderstorm produced 13 reports of mostly wind damage in Dixfield, Scarborough, Saco, and Buckfield, ME, and street flooding in Scarborough. The middle of the month was particularly active with one system bringing 3.27 inches of rain the night of the 13th through the 14th, and another system bringing 2.76 inches of rain on the 17th – 18th. The storm system that crossed the morning of the 14th brought strong south to southeast winds that caused tree damage in York County with the peak wind measured at 45 mph in Portland. The first freeze of the fall occurred on October 9th.

November was exceptionally warm in the Portland area through the first half of the month, followed by temperatures averaging below normal through the second half. During the first 12 days, the average temperature was 54.1 degrees and exceeded the 70-degree mark 3 times. A new all time record high was set on the 5th when the high temperature reached 75 degrees! The jet stream configuration, which consisted of a ridge of high pressure centered over New England, limited precipitation early in the month, although the remnants of Tropical System Nicole moved up the eastern seaboard, bringing a bout of heavy rain on the 11th. The ridge broke down during the middle of the month, giving way to a trough of low pressure. This pattern allowed for a couple of frontal systems to cross New England, and temperatures to trend below normal. SKYWARN activations occurred on the 16th, bringing the first reports of freezing precipitation of the season, followed by another activation on the 30th, for a strong cold front that generated reports of snow, heavy rain, and wind damage. The peak gust at Portland topped out at 47 mph. A total of 5.24 inches of precipitation fell in November, which was 0.99 inches above normal. The heaviest precipitation in fell on the 15th – 16th when 1.32 inches of rain was recorded.

Four SKYWARN activations took place in December, on the 1st, 12th, 15th – 17th, and 23rd. A cold front crossed the region to start the month followed by a brief high pressure. A period of relatively active weather ensued through the winter solstice as several mid latitude cyclones of Pacific origin tracked eastward and brought bouts of precipitation to New England. Towards the middle of the month, high latitude blocking became pronounced over Alaska and Eastern Canada. The blocking over Alaska helped funnel arctic air into the Continental U.S. and the blocking over Eastern Canada helped suppress low pressure systems from tracking west of New England. This pattern ultimately led to a coastal low pressure system to develop near the Mid Atlantic on the 15th, which tracked into the Gulf of Maine on the 17th. This system brought significant moisture into New England, and while the Portland area did see prolonged snowfall, temperatures were near or slightly above freezing, limiting the ability for the snow to accumulate. The system brought the heaviest precipitation of the month with rain and melted snow amounting to 1.45 inches, with 4.1 inches of heavy wet snow. Further inland, this system brought significant heavy wet snow leading to power outages across the interior with the mountains seeing upwards of two feet.

After a few days of dry weather, another significant system took shape over the Central Plains on the 22nd and tracked over the Great Lakes on the 23rd and into Quebec on the 24th. The system brought significant southerly to southeasterly winds into Maine and New Hampshire with the peak gust in Portland reaching 65 mph. These very strong onshore winds combined with a period of high astronomical tides led to the 4th highest tide on record at Portland at 13.72 feet, on the 23rd, which resulted in significant coastal flooding. Much cooler weather followed over the holiday weekend, with temperatures climbing well above normal to close out the month.

Satellite image of Winter Storm “Elliott”

A total of 3.98 inches of precipitation fell, which was 0.52 inches below normal. A total of 4.7 inches of snow fell, which was 9.9 inches below normal. The majority of this snow fell on the 16th – 17th when 4.2 inches of heavy wet snow was measured.

December was a busy month for SKYWARN, as we collected 144 reports, 61 of which were for the December 23rd storm. Many of these were for wind damage and flooding.

Coastal flooding in York, ME during the December 23rd storm

During the year, the NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team helped gather a record 518 SKYWARN reports, which is 75 more than our previous record of 443, set in 2020. Thanks to all of our Net Control operators, SKYWARN Spotters, and volunteers, who helped us throughout the year. Keep up the good work!

The NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team is a group of volunteers who support the National Weather Service Forecast Office, in Gray, ME. Click here to learn more about the team and how you can help.

Works cited:

NWS Gray Climate Information Library – Portland, ME: https://www.weather.gov/gyx/climate_f6.html

Portland Maine Daily Records: https://www.weather.gov/media/gyx/climo/PortlandRecords.pdf

Climatological Report (Monthly): https://forecast.weather.gov/product.php?site=GYX&product=CLM&issuedby=PWM

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